With millions of people working from home or quarantined amid the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, demand for video conferencing and chat software from the likes of Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), Alphabet's (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) Google, and Zoom (NASDAQ: ZM) is skyrocketing.
That demand is expected to increase even more as the number of cases in the U.S. rises. As of Wednesday, there were 938 confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S., with 29 deaths attributed to the virus, according to CDC data. As the number of school closures and quarantines increases, video conferencing will become ever more important.
Since the end of January, Microsoft's Teams collaboration platform has seen a 500% increase in usage in China. Usage is increasing in the U.S. as well, with more employees working from home. Meanwhile, Zoom CFO Kelly Steckelberg has said publicly that its usage is up significantly from its 100 billion minutes run rate at the end of January.
All that demand is prompting the tech companies to make it easier, and in some cases free, to use their software. Microsoft announced that Teams is now free to anyone with an email address.
Google said last week it's offering free access to its Hangouts Meet video conferencing service and all its G Suite and G Suite for Education collaboration platforms
Finally, Zoom has lifted the 40-minute limit on meetings for its users in China. The same courtesy is being extended to schools and universities in the U.S. upon request. Slack (NYSE: WORK) already offers a free tier, but the company is offering live Q&A and webinars to get the influx of new users up to speed.
10 stocks we like better than Microsoft
When investing geniuses David and Tom Gardner have a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has tripled the market.*
David and Tom just revealed what they believe are the ten best stocks for investors to buy right now... and Microsoft wasn't one of them! That's right -- they think these 10 stocks are even better buys.
*Stock Advisor returns as of December 1, 2019
Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Teresa Kersten, an employee of LinkedIn, a Microsoft subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Donna Fuscaldo has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Microsoft, Slack Technologies, and Zoom Video Communications and recommends the following options: long January 2021 $85 calls on Microsoft, short January 2021 $115 calls on Microsoft, and short May 2020 $120 calls on Zoom Video Communications. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.