Shropshire Star comment: Zoom has been a saviour

Be honest now, when was the first time you heard of Zoom? And we're not talking about an old hit by Fat Larry's Band.

Portway House Specialist Care Centre, where they are using Zoom etc and technology to ensure relatives are kept in touch with residents
Portway House Specialist Care Centre, where they are using Zoom etc and technology to ensure relatives are kept in touch with residents

It has been one of the most extraordinary success stories of the year. Like Google, Zoom has become both a noun and a verb.

Before the March lockdown relatively few people will have been familiar with Zoom, which is a video conferencing app.

Over the pandemic it has seen exponential growth. That is good for the business, but that success has been because it has been a tool for our times, a way of keeping people in touch during lockdown and going at least some way to easing the sense of isolation.

Other video conferencing apps are available, as they say. But Zoom has a linguistic advantage over, say, Microsoft Teams, as it is a word which trips off the tongue. I Zoom, we Zoom, they Zoom...

As a token of appreciation to customers, it is giving back something special at Christmas and the New Year by lifting its 40-minute call limit on free accounts. This means family and friends have more time for chats, or maybe quizzes, party games, or whatever else they may wish to do using the power of Zoom.

With the restrictions in place governing how many people you can meet over the festive period, the advent of Zoom will make things more tolerable than they would otherwise be.

Not that it is always plain sailing with such video conferencing apps, as technology and connections are fallible. Even the Queen ran into technical difficulties while on a video chat the other day.

An interesting question is what the future will hold for Zoom once the pandemic subsides. And the answer may be that it has so profoundly changed the way people do things that there will be no going back. Businesses which during the crisis have of necessity had to rely on home working by staff have had it demonstrated that, with the help of Zoom, it is a business model which can work.

And families have the blessing of having a way of catching up with loved ones wherever they live.

Zoom has shown us all that you do not have to be together, to be together.

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