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Zoom Phone now used by more than 1M people to stay connected

Companies like eBay are using Zoom Phone instead of traditional phone services to keep all communication within the Zoom app. Here's why.

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Angela Lang/CNET

Last year, Zoom became synonymous with video chatting and conferencing for more than 300 million participants each day as coronavirus lockdowns led many to work and socialize from home. But there's another Zoom service that has flown under the radar and is quickly picking up steam among business users: Zoom Phone. The cloud phone service built into the Zoom platform now has more than 1 million paid users, the company said Tuesday, despite only launching two years ago and entering a crowded enterprise telephony service field. 

"When Zoom got into this business, it was a result of our customers saying 'We're tired of having a separate phone system that's sitting in the basement of our building. Can you help us with that?'" Graeme Geddes, head of Zoom Phone, told CNET.

At the start of the pandemic, lots of businesses didn't have any remote collaboration tools and quickly shifted meetings to Zoom for both video conferencing and phone calls. The major benefit of Zoom Phone is that the service exists within the same Zoom app: When you add Phone to a paid Zoom account, a new tab appears where you can make and receive calls, record calls, hear voicemails and send text messages. 

"You don't have to retrain users -- it's the same app they're already familiar with," Geddes said. Large enterprises including eBay now use the service.

Read more: How to use Zoom: 15 video chat tips and tricks to try today

Like its video chat offering, Zoom Phone is predicated on a promise of ease of setup and use. You can sign up for Zoom Phone and have your company up and running on the platform within 24 hours, Geddes said. You can use the service with your mobile phone, or a traditional office phone. 

It's also easier to purchase than many other phone solutions, since it comes from the same Zoom vendor and is easy to administrate. 

Growing momentum

In November, Mike Fasciani, a Gartner analyst who studies collaboration tools, told me that momentum for Zoom Phone among companies small and large was growing -- and that he didn't see it coming. 

"I thought that it would be a much tougher move to compete against traditional enterprise telephony services, but they are in fact doing that," Fasciani said. 

Amid the pandemic, meeting services have become more important than phone services, he said. With that shift, a more simple telephony strategy became more appealing for many companies -- you don't need a hard phone or lots of complex features if you can just do everything from the Zoom app. 

And with so many people continuing to work from home or planning to move to a remote/in-office hybrid model in the future, the need for an official work phone isn't as great, Fasciani added.

"There's a shift in sentiment toward a lighter weight phone offering that very much aligns to what Zoom is built around," Fasciani said. "It has a lot of appeal as people rethink their strategy and become more video-first, meeting-centric in terms of collaboration, and use a phone number in the domains of the business like sales and customer service in a much more limited and targeted way." 

For more, check out how Zoom made video meetings easy for workers, students and all of us last year and how to prevent Zoombombing in your video meetings.  

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