Updated: Is ZOOM Your Next Competitor?

Update: I spoke to ZOOM CEO Eric Yuan this morning. He told me that it’s correct that they do try to establish relationships directly with the clients. But, he says that ZOOM’s policy about this is very specifically defined: If an AV integrator has an existing client relationship, all they need to do is register that client and ZOOM will not go or talk directly to the client without the integrator’s assistance. But, if ZOOM establishes the relationship directly, they will potentially sell the ZOOM system directly. Yuan says, “We do have a PSO team and sometimes customers can count on Zoom to set up/install Zoom rooms system per their requests. But customers will purchase hardware by themselves or via CDW, etc.” He also stated unequivocally that ZOOM would never give away the hardware to a client for free to get the ZOOM sale. I asked him if he’d ever done that and he said, “No, and I will stake my personal reputation in this claim.”

We just got confirmation of a multi-million dollar AV integration job that was designed by an AV consultant and bid on by reputable AV integration firms but, the job was awarded to ZOOM — yes, ZOOM, the videoconferencing manufacturer, directly.

Yes, the same ZOOM soft-codec, video- and web-conferencing services — the same one you, as an integrator, are specifying to your clients.

But here’s the kicker — we have a source that says ZOOM agreed to put in all the AV gear for FREE — yes, free. All they wanted was a long-term licensing deal for the ZOOM software. So, they’re going to install the hardware for free, apparently, to get the software licensing fee.

See also  HDBaseT Over IP: Courting Disaster

But ZOOM is also actively promoting (and still recruiting) their AV partners. Look here.

When we first heard about this, we were skeptical that it was true. But now we know it’s true. ZOOM actually isn’t really making it a secret that they are doing this. Check this out; they’re actually, actively advertising to hire AV installers: https://zoom.us/careers (scroll down to Professional Services). And, just in case they take these job postings down, you can see the screen shots I took of the ads here and here.

It gets even more interesting — they’re even advertising to the end user clients that they do AV Integration — open this PDF and scroll down to the section on “Deployment.” Again, in case ZOOM takes this down, I grabbed it and you can see it here.

So are you selling and integrating ZOOM? If so, does this concern you?

I reached out the ZOOM President, Eric Yuan himself yesterday, to find out what the plan was within ZOOM: Are they planning to go completely direct in the future of do they still want to support the AV integration channel? I suspect that, once you’ve had this happen once, you’re unlikely to continue to support a manufacturer that sells direct (and even actually competes with you) — especially since you can get soft-codecs from others who aren’t selling direct or installing the hardware for free to get the software seat-license contract.

Gary Kayye

About Gary Kayye

Gary Kayye, founder of rAVe Publications, is one of the most prominent personalities in the audiovisual industry. He has been a contributor to WIRED magazine and a technical advisor and columnist for Sound & Communications magazine as well as an opinionated columnist for rAVe [Publications] since 2003. In addition to his writing and market analysis, Gary has been a product, marketing and business operations consultant to dozens of AV companies in the U.S. and overseas. Clients have included companies such as Sony, Sharp, Epson, Lutron, InFocus, Sanyo, Mitsubishi, NEC and Philips.   Gary, who has been involved with the audiovisual market for over 20 years, was the recipient of the InfoComm 2003 Educator of the Year Award and the 2007 NSCA Instructor of the Year Award. Over the years, he has donated much of his time as an active volunteer in the AV industry’s trade association and served as chairman of InfoComm’s Professional Education & Training Committee (PETC), chairman of the ICIA Design School Committee and chairman of InfoComm’s Installation School Committee. In addition, he has served on the InfoComm board of governors. He also helped grow the InfoComm Projection Shoot-Out as the premiere AV industry trade show special event serving on the committee from 1991 through 1997, and was instrumental in launching the Shoot-Out in the European market at the Photokina Expo in 1994 and 1996 as well as the Asian market at the 1995 and 1997 INFOCOMM Asia shows.   Prior to founding his own company, Gary was vice president of sales and marketing for AMX Corporation (www.amx.com), a manufacturer specializing in professional AV and residential AV control systems. Prior to AMX, Gary spent nine years at Extron Electronics (www.extron.com), rising to the position of vice president of sales and marketing. Gary earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1987 from the University of North Carolina and is currently Adjunct Faculty at UNC in the School of Journalism teaching a class on how future technologies will affect the future of advertising, PR and marketing.   He is also the founder of Swim for Smiles, a non-profit that raises money for the N.C. Children’s Hospital through swimming and other fitness-related events for kids. You can contact him at gary@ravepubs.com..