When it comes to collaboration software, two solutions typically come up together: BigBlueButton and Zoom. There are plenty of other vendors in collaboration software that make up the market, but these two always seem to be pitted against each other.
If you’re wondering which of these two is right for your school or business, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll take a look at pricing, features, user reviews, and integration options for both BigBlueButton and Zoom so you can feel confident knowing you’ve made the best decision for your business.
BigBlueButton is a free open source software solution.
An open source software solution is like a blueprint for building a customized collaboration software system suited specifically to your needs.
This does mean that unlike more traditional deployment models, you’re going to need a person or team tech savvy enough to configure the source code for your business. So the issue lies within the fact that while you’re getting a free, customizable system, it still might not be the best fit for your business.
If you have an IT team who is confident enough to set up and maintain the system, you’ll get a bevy of features at an affordable price.
Comparatively, Zoom has five versions available: Zoom Basic, Zoom Pro, Zoom Business, Zoom United Business, and Zoom Enterprise. Like BigBlueButton, Zoom offers a free plan which includes hosting up to 100 participants at a time, but the meetings are cut off after 40 minutes.
Zoom Pro, Business, and United Business are all offered via monthly or annual subscriptions, but Zoom Enterprise is only available for annual contracts. For annual billing, Pro starts at $149.90 a year per license, and you get that price for up to nine licenses. It includes unlimited meeting time. It’s marketed as their small team plan, and you can continue to add on licenses as long as you don’t exceed the nine license limit.
Business starts at $199.90 a year per license, but you need to purchase at least 10 licenses. United Business starts at $300.00 a year per license, and you need a minimum of at least 10 licenses. Enterprise starts at $199.90 a year per license, but you need to purchase at least 100 licenses.
The obvious notable difference between BigBlueButton and Zoom is that one is a free open source option which will require much more setup and knowledge to get it working for you. Comparatively, Zoom is more expensive, but you get the product immediately without having to worry about updating it yourself.
BigBlueButton is less expensive than Zoom, but Zoom offers both free and paid versions which do not require extensive knowledge to get up and running.
As a whole, Zoom offers more features than BigBlueButton, but those features are unlocked depending on which plan you choose. The most basic versions of Zoom allow you to have a video conference for up to 100 participants with limited features including screen sharing and chat.
Zoom Pro gives you 30 hours of meeting duration, meeting schedulers, streaming, reporting, and user management.
Zoom Business and United Business offers all of the above plus a few extras such as administrative portals, learning tools interoperability (LTI) integrations, cloud recording transcripts, branding, managed domains, and language interpretations.
Zoom Enterprise offers all of those functionalities and plus these extra features: A customer success manager, executive business reviews, and a bundle discount.
Because BigBlueButton is open source, you have more control over which features you choose to include so that your school or business has exactly what it needs. It’s important to remember that BigBlueButton was made to help with distance learning, so many of the features will be more specific to that niche. In addition, the features you have access to are dependent on whether you are a “viewer” or a “moderator”.
A viewer has access to chat, the ability to send or receive audio and video, respond to polls, or signal they want to speak. There’s also a digital whiteboard they can use. A person with the viewer role has no control over the actual session details though.
A moderator can do everything a viewer can, but also has the ability to mute or unmute all participants, assign anyone the role of presenter, and can eject users from the meeting.
Other features provided is the ability to present your screen by uploading as well as annotating slides in real time. These features are extremely effective if you and your team do a lot of virtual brainstorming together.
Zoom offers more features although they are limited in the free version. More specific features can be unlocked depending on which pricing plan you go with, while BigBlueButton’s features tend to be more focused on interactive and collaborative meetings.
Comparing user reviews for BigBlueButton and Zoom reveal that Zoom has a better overall score. Based on the average score from user reviews on GetApp.com, BigBlueButton has an overall rating of 74% versus Zoom’s overall rating of 92%.
When you consider user reviews for both products in a few different categories, Zoom consistently scores higher than BigBlueButton. Specifically, users think Zoom has better customer support, is a better value for the money, and are more likely to recommend it.
The value for money is likely because, while BigBlueButton is free, it’s complicated to get started and can often require hiring a consultant or an IT expert, and Zoom also offers a fairly robust free option.
To learn more about our methodology, click here.
Users rated Zoom higher than BigBlueButton, especially for likelihood to recommend and value for money.
BigBlueButton is significantly less integration-friendly than Zoom, in large part due to its open source status. There are under 20 systems listed on GetApp that BigBlueButton integrates with, though if your team uses Wordpress, Moodle, or Drupal, you’re in luck.
Zoom integrates with many more applications than BigBlueButton does.
In the end, the right collaboration software for you is the one that meets your requirements. While there is some overlap in functionality, these two systems were built with different purposes in mind, making it impossible to say one is superior to the other. BigBlueButton was tailor-made for education, but it’s still a great, affordable choice if your team only needs basic video conferencing software with brainstorming tools built in.
What matters is what you're looking for:
If you’re looking for a system that will allow you to brainstorm inexpensively on video calls with minimal other features, you’d be better off with BigBlueButton assuming you have someone on staff who is tech savvy enough to install and maintain it.
On the other hand, if you’re searching for software that will allow you to host a ton of meetings at once with a plethora of features all designed with video conferencing in mind without much setup time, Zoom is probably right for you.
Zoom is a holistic video conferencing collaboration tool right out of the box while BigBlueButton requires more setup and is predominantly meant for educational purposes.
The customer reviews mentioned in this article were obtained from GetApp.com. All ratings have been multiplied by 20 to bring them on a scale of 20-100.
Note: The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.