Zooms App SDK For Creating Apps Within Zoom Accelerates Its Platformization

By Patrick Moorhead - July 21, 2022

Over the last two years, Zoom has become a video juggernaut, introducing features and improving its services by leaps and bounds to keep up with the needs of remote work and now hybrid work. One of the difficulties of a video call solution is navigating through the hybrid ecosystems that we have grown accustomed to over the past few years. Now more than ever, people are moving through multiple hybrid ecosystems, whether in work, school, or play. 

This hybrid trend makes interoperability between solutions and applications a must-have for video call solutions like Zoom. While Zoom has done a commendable job in making its service interoperable with Zoom apps, the next step is putting that power into the hands of developers. 

Zoom announced the general availability of the Zoom Apps software development kit (SDK), allowing developers to build their apps within the Zoom ecosystem. Let’s dive into Zoom’s new Apps SDK and what Zoom is doing to foster its app marketplace. Net-net it is another step to “platformize” Zoom. 

Zoom App SDK

Zoom launched its Zoom Apps almost a year ago. The premise behind Zoom implementing apps within the Zoom ecosystem is that users do not have to leave Zoom to interact with apps outside of Zoom. There is no reason to leave if the app is already in the Zoom App Marketplace. So far, Zoom developers have published over 100 Zoom apps, and the Zoom App SDK is an opening for developers and businesses to develop more Zoom apps.

So far, I like Zoom’s approach to its Zoom app experience. It could have announced the Zoom App SDK at the launch of the Zoom Apps. Its decision to control the first one hundred Zoom Apps and then introduce them to developers was strategic. It gave Zoom the chance to carve out what should be included with the SDK and gave developers an idea of what an App with Zoom could look like based on the first one hundred apps. It had to prove to developers that it could be done in a way that didn’t make the core video experience complex.

Users can discover Zoom apps from the call. Zoom

The Zoom App SDK is a JavaScript SDK that gives developers access to client features. The Zoom App SDK gives developers access to APIs and webhooks, meeting SDK for AI/ML use-cases, developer resources, and ISV partnerships. I believe this gives developers a lot of room to create interactive apps for Zoom. I am interested to see apps that use identifiers alongside AI to create an interactive experience. 

While applications may seem like a small feature to add to a video call solution, it could create an ecosystem around Zoom where the Zoom platform is the central medium of traffic for app interactions. So, for example, a school can do online tests through a zoom meeting. Rather than going through an outside party, the test is facilitated using AI app through the Zoom platform. Similarly, a business can automate workflows or allow everyone within the call to interact with a campaign using the same app that would be used outside of the video call. It would save time and be more efficient. 

The Zoom App Marketplace

Zoom also facilitates app discovery with the App Marketplace by letting users search for apps within the marketplace. Zoom says it will include a list of available apps and app details and add them during a meeting. This could be helpful for many use cases within businesses, schools, and casual calls. For example, a casual call between two people could turn into a competitive gaming session after searching the app marketplace for games and finding a suitable game within the marketplace.

I believe if Zoom is able to manage and grow the App marketplace well, it could grow Zoom into a truly interoperable collaborative operating system within the video call space. It’s tough as Microsoft, Google, and even Salesforce are getting into the platform space. 

Zoom’s roadmap for creating an app makes it simple to publish an app within the marketplace. Developers build the app, complete a submission checklist, submit it for review, and then publish the app on the marketplace, where it is available to all users. In the past, I have had concerns about Zoom’s ability to release new features and then fix things later, leading to zero-day security risks and other alarming issues. However, I believe Zoom has made a complete 180 since then. It is strategically building its ecosystem of developers and building an app marketplace that could thrive. With Zoom’s position at the top of all video call solutions, I believe its marketplace could be a success.

Zoom Developer platform Zoom

Wrapping up

I believe Zoom has strategically built out its app marketplace and attempt to evolve into a platform. Zoom appears to be successful with its first one hundred apps and strategically took its time to release the App SDK for developers. It had to do the first 100 to show developers how it could and should be done. 

This is a big second step in the “platformization” of Zoom.

Note: Moor Insights & Strategy co-op Jacob Freyman contributed to this article

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Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.