經濟學人雜誌閱讀筆記#10/爆紅又爆雷的Zoom陷入危機- Online collaboration: Zoom in, Zoom out

The videoconferencing firm’s popularity has brought problems.

(Original article)

(p.50, The Economist, April 11th 2020)

[Full Text and Translation/原文與翻譯]

Eric Yuan(袁征) likes to crack jokes. But these days the boss of Zoom, a videoconference service of coronavirus-fuelled popularity, is in no mood for laughs. His firm. Whose share price has surged by 49% since the end of January, is trying to avoid a serious of whiplash.

Zoom, founded in 2011, is part of a trend in tech known as “the consumerisation of IT”. The idea is that corporate services should be as easy to use as consumer ones. Meetings on Zoom can be called with a few clicks and are free if they last no longer than 40 minutes and have fewer than 100 participants. Zoom also keeps oodles of spare capacity, ensuring a good service. Its 17 data centres around the world were built to withstand double the expected peak load. But as a consumer-business hybrid the company has focused much less on privacy and security than old-style corporate-IT firms.

The combination became a problem after the coronavirus hit. The number of daily users has exploded from 10m in December to more than 200m today. This is technically manageable. But with popularity comes scrutiny. Worrying reports come almost daily about data leaks, iffy encryption and “zoombombing”, the childish practice of gatecrashing meetings and showing porn or worse. “I really messed up,” admitted Mr. Yuan on April 3rd, promising that the firm would make amends.

Zoom has every reason to relieve the tension inherent in a model that aims to provide a corporate service but is now used by people stuck at home and craving contact with the world beyond. Unless it does so it will create an opening for more business-oriented services, in particular Microsoft Teams, whose video service lags behind Zoom both in quality and popularity.

Rivalry between Zoom and Teams highlights a battle that has been brewing for a while. On one side are firms that provide specialized tools for online collaboration, such as Zoom and Slack, a corporate-messaging app. On the other are those that offer a complete range of such services, like Microsoft and Google. If, as many predict, working remotely becomes far more common even after the virus recedes, the competition to create the virtual office will intensify. Expect to hear more about Microsoft trying to entice customers into its world — and startups complaining that the ex-evil empire is back to its old tricks.

Zoom的老闆袁征喜歡說笑,但他最近可能笑不太出來了。這個因冠狀病毒而受到歡迎的視訊軟體,自一月底來,股價快速飆升了49%。

Zoom成立於2011年,被稱為是”IT消費化”趨勢的技術,讓企業的服務像消費者的服務一樣容易被使用,只需點擊幾下即可進入視訊會議。如果會議時間不超過40分鐘且參與者少於100人,就可免費使用。Zoom有足夠的備用容量,以確保良好的服務,它在全球的17個數據中心可承受兩倍的高峰流量。但是,與傳統IT企業相比,Zoom對隱私和安全的關注要少得多。

冠狀病毒蔓延後,Zoom的企業用戶和一般用戶的混用,帶來了危機。每日用戶數量已從12月的1000萬增加到今天的2億多,這在技術上是可掌握的,但是隨著受歡迎程度的越高,也備受檢視。幾乎每天都有令人擔憂的報導,涉及資料外洩、加密漏洞、會議被入侵的幼稚行為、色情或更糟的事件。老闆袁先生在4月3日說:“我真的搞砸了”,他承諾公司會做出修改。

Zoom勢必要解決企業所擔心的問題,但現在還有許多個人用戶是被困在家裡並渴望與外界接觸。如果不先解決企業端的疑慮,將會造成缺口,讓為其他企業服務導向的競爭者創造機會,尤其是Microsoft,其視訊產品Teams的品質和受歡迎程度都比不上Zoom。

Zoom和Teams之間的競爭已經醞釀許久。有些視訊軟體公司是提供在線協作的工具,例如企業通訊軟體Zoom和Slack。另外是提供全套在線服務工具的公司,例如Microsoft和Google。如果像許多人所預測的那樣,即使在病毒消退之後,遠程工作變得更普遍,虛擬辦公室的競爭也會更加激烈。期待能聽到更多有關Microsoft試圖吸引客戶變成Microsoft用戶的訊息,還有一些初創公司抱怨說,這個邪惡的帝國(Microsoft)又重出江湖了。

[Vocabulary/單字學習]

1. Crack jokes (說笑) : to tell a joke. Ex. I cracked a few jokes to try to cheer everyone up.

2. Surge (n.) : A sudden and great increases. Ex. An unexpected surge in electrical power caused the computer to crash.

3. Whiplash(n. 鞭打)

4. the consumerisation of IT : Consumerization of IT (“consumerization”) is a phrase used to describe the cycle of information technology (IT) emerging in the consumer market, then spreading to business and government organizations, largely because employees are using the popular “consumer market” technologies and devices at home and then introducing them in the workplace. IT消費化是指員工作為一般消費者,在家裡使用的科技技術和設備的經驗,會帶回工作場所。(Reference)

5. Oodles of ([網路]許多的): very large amounts. ex. Zoom also keeps oodles of spare capacity, ensuring a good service.

6. Withstand (v.禁得起): to be strong enough. Ex. A bridge designed to withstand earthquakes.

7. Scrutiny (n.審查,檢查) : the careful and detailed examination of something to get information. Ex. Will the candidates stand up under all the scrutiny?

8. Data leaks (資料外洩)/ Iffy encryption (加密漏洞) / Data breach (數據外洩)

9. Gatecrash (v.擅自參加): to go to a party or other event when you have not been invited. Ex. He decided to gatecrash the wedding.

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Ellieytc

紫微斗數命宮是武曲、星座是天蠍,加起來就是一個能文能武、說走就走的小女子。本職工作是行銷 I am here to share my ideas and experiences. Keep learning!