For millions of people, navigating how to safely gather the family for Thanksgiving just got a little easier. That's because Zoom just announced it will remove the 40-minute limit on free meetings on Thanksgiving Day.
Zoom says it's doing so as a token of thanks for its customers. To that end, it's really a brilliant move. Zoom is already where we do just about everything that involves being face-to-face with people we can't actually be face-to-face with.
For example, Zoom is now where we have team meetings, meet with customers, get together for birthdays, do online school, and even teach yoga. It makes sense that along with all of the other normal things we've had to adapt virtually, Thanksgiving is now on the list.
While Zoom has been an important part of helping people stay connected, the free account has always had a time limit for meetings with more two people. Most of the time that's fine, because you can still use your free account to log on to a meeting hosted by someone with a paid account.
The problem is, if you only have a free account, your meeting is limited to 40 minutes, which forces users to restart meetings and get everyone logged back on, or get out the wallet and sign up for a paid account. For Thanksgiving, however, there's no guarantee that someone in the family will have one of those.
Zoom is removing that inconvenience on a day that is sure to see millions of people trying to find a creative way to get the family together. And getting people together is a very real challenge, especially as the U.S. enters a second wave of Covid-19 cases.
In many areas, public health officials are asking people to consider not traveling or hosting people outside their immediate household. That's especially difficult during the holidays, a time when extended families traditionally gather together to celebrate.
Making Zoom the place to spend Thanksgiving as well is a great way to build affection for a brand that, let's face it, the average person had never heard of until March. The best thing is, you don't need to do anything to take advantage of Zoom's small gift--simply start a meeting and invite your family.
Zoom's biggest strength has always been its ease of use, even for people who have never used videoconferencing software before. Anyone can join with just a link. This move is very on-brand for a company that became one of the most important tools for staying connected precisely because it was so simple to use. Now, Thanksgiving just got a little easier, at least virtually.
Finally, just to be clear, the change isn't permanent. After 6:00 a.m. on the 27th, everything goes back to normal, but it's certainly a nice move by a company we've all come to depend on in ways we never could have imagined--even for Thanksgiving dinner.