Reliance unveils free app to take on Zoom

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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - India's Reliance Industries, which raised $22.15 billion through stake sales in its digital services platform in June from global investors including facebook, Mubadala Investment and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, announced on Saturday the launch of the JioMeet video conferencing app, throwing a major challenge to Zoom that has been gaining worldwide popularity during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The JioMeet app, which offers unlimited free calling, is now available across Android, iOS, Windows, macOS and web. The app supports HD audio and video call quality with up to 100 participants and offers features like screen sharing, meeting schedule feature and more.

But unlike Zoom, it does not impose a 40-minute time limit. Calls can go on as long as 24 hours, and all meetings are encrypted and password-protected, the company said.

Reacting to the JioMeet's surprise entry, the US-based Zoom said on Saturday it is not worried about the upcoming competition and know what it takes to become a successful unified communications platform.

"Zoom has experienced intense competition since it was established in 2011, and yet we have become the platform of choice for millions of participants around the world," the US firm said in a statement.

"We know what it takes to become the unified communications platform we are today, including the immense amount of work and focus required to create our frictionless user experience, sophisticated security, and scalable architecture," Zoom added.

Based on $15 per month charge for meetings of more than 40 minutes on Zoom ($180 on annual basis), JioMeet is providing the same functionality and more free of cost, translating into Rs 13,500 savings for a host per year, informed sources said.

According to the app features listed on the Google Play Store, JioMeet offers easy sign up with either mobile number or e-mail ID and allows creation of instant meeting. Each meeting is password protected and the host can enable 'Waiting Room' to ensure no participant joins without permission. It also allows creation of groups and starting calling/chatting on a single click.

Other features include 'Safe Driving Mode' while driving, multi-device login support for up to five devices and seamless switching from one device to other while on call.

Company sources said no restriction on time limit on JioMeet means teachers will not be required to cut short their classes as they are forced to do on Zoom. Also, the app allows national and international seminars as well as hosting of cultural and social events.

Unlike Zoom where users cannot expand a participant's video, JioMeet meetings users can expand any participant's video or shared screen's video by a double tap.

JioMeet also has two advanced meeting settings over and above Zoom options. First, it allows participants only from the host's organisation.

"The current market dynamics will potentially provide enough tailwinds to JioMeet to gain currency, on the back of its features, such as no limits on call durations, and seamless switching between devices," Prabhu Ram of CyberMedia Research said.

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Issac John

Editorial Director of Al Khaleej Today, is a well-connected Indian journalist and an economic and financial commentator. He has been in the UAE's mainstream journalism for 35 years, including 23 years with Al Khaleej Today. A post-graduate in English and graduate in economics, he has won over two dozen awards. Acclaimed for his authentic and insightful analysis of global and regional businesses and economic trends, he is respected for his astute understanding of the local business scene.

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