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Zoom Phone adds features to catch up with UCaaS leaders

Zoom Phone users are getting new ways to use the product with Zoom Meetings, as the vendor continues to build out its nascent UCaaS service.

The latest enhancements to Zoom Phone introduce new ways for customers to use the cloud-based business phone service side by side with the vendor's flagship video conferencing product.

The vendor this month also added several essential features to its 1-year-old telephony offering as it chases more established rivals in the unified communications as a service (UCaaS) market.

Users subscribed to a Zoom Phone calling plan can now dial into audio conferencing lines hosted through Zoom Meetings for no additional charge. Also, users can now merge an ongoing Zoom Phone call with an ongoing Zoom Meeting.

The January update also added voicemail greetings, anonymous call blocking, out-of-office call routing and dial-by-name directories. Plus, the product gained new paging capabilities through integrations with intercom device-makers Algo and Cyberdata.

The rapid expansion of Zoom Phone demonstrates that the vendor is devoting significant resources to the product. At the same time, the latest updates underscore that the offering remains relatively immature relative to other UCaaS packages, said Rob Arnold, analyst at Frost & Sullivan.

Still, Zoom has begun to generate interest in the telephony service based on its reputation as a leading video provider. "We do get inquiries all the time about Zoom, both for Meetings and Phone," Arnold said. "The company undoubtedly has a strong mind share."

Zoom Phone remains available only to businesses that subscribe to Zoom Meetings, the video conferencing product. Over the past year, however, the vendor has gone from marketing the service as a helpful add-on to placing the product at the center of its portfolio.

The UCaaS market could reach a value of more than $79 billion by 2024, up from roughly $8 billion in 2015, according to a 2019 report by Transparency Market Research. Zoom is vying with vendors like RingCentral, 8x8, Cisco, Microsoft, Mitel, Vonage and Fuze for its share of those deals.

Zoom's relationship with Slack could help the video conferencing provider in that effort. Zoom lacks a team collaboration app of its own, but it has partnered with Slack to build closer links between their platforms.

The two vendors this month introduced a new integration that will let users initiate Zoom Phone calls within Slack. Users will access the feature by typing "/zoom call," followed by the name or phone number of the person they are trying to reach.

At the same time, Zoom is building out its messaging service, called Zoom Chat. The vendor's January update to the service gave users the ability to apply rich formatting to messages. They can now bold and italicize text and create bulleted lists.

In other Zoom news, the vendor announced that its app marketplace contains more than 200 third-party integrations.

Adoption of Zoom has grown rapidly among startups and tech companies. However, the vendor is still attempting to gain a foothold among the world's largest businesses.

Expanding Zoom Phone and adding integration partners should help Zoom recruit more multinational companies as customers, said Raúl Castañón-Martinez, analyst at 451 Research.

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