When people couldn't see each other in real life, they turned to virtual meetings that required a webcam
When Covid-19's locks took effect worldwide, millions turned to remote work and organized virtual hangouts with friends.
Overnight, webcams turned from everyday computer accessories to gold dust.
Even now, the initial surge in demand has barely subsided in March, and manufacturers have struggled to satisfy the many consumers who are trying to buy.
And although some consumers have been successful, there is plenty of evidence that many are still looking for in vain.
Smartphones, tablets and laptops are usually equipped with integrated cameras.
However, many users prefer dedicated devices that may offer higher video resolution or are easier to position, such as with a tripod.
Logitech is working hard to meet demand
Logitech has started shipping its webcams by air freight rather than at sea to reach retailers as quickly as possible.
"We are still tracking demand," said a spokesman.
"Production is in full swing.
"In the future, the supply could remain tight, but we expect it to improve."
CEO Bracken Darrell told CNBC that the company is working "like crazy" to meet demand.
And he expected a further increase in sales from students who returned to the university practically in the fall.
In the UK, Amazon, Curry & # 39; s and Argos offer certain webcam models for sale.
However, many – including the most popular products from companies like Logitech, Microsoft and Razer – are regularly listed as out of stock.
"I've been trying to find one for my mother for months," says Matt Obee, a software designer in the UK.
"She wanted to take part in her normal activities from home."
In particular virtual church and Pilates.
"I could only find a few with stupidly inflated prices or unrecognizable brands," he says.
And when a friend bought Mr. Obee's mother a webcam with a brand name he didn't know, it seemed to be causing software problems on her computer, and Zoom kept crashing.
Eventually he managed to buy her one of Curry – a little more expensive than the model he wanted to buy, but it worked as expected.
"I didn't expect us to have to search for months," he adds.
Internet streamer Monika Lee has not found a suitable webcam
In California, cosplayer and streamer Monika Lee already has two webcams, but would like a third one for cooking demonstrations from her kitchen.
"It's more important than ever to get in touch with people," she says.
Her need for the camera is "pretty frivolous," she says.
But she is unhappy with the quality of the built-in laptop camera she has used.
And while the webcam model you want is back in stock, the price on Amazon has risen.
Similar frustrations existed in the USA with the game streamer Casey Thornton, who is known under the pseudonym D3ityCthulhu.
Casey Thornton is a game streamer looking for a high quality webcam
The pandemic has surprised the webcam market and it is understandable that manufacturers are struggling to keep up, says Stuart Miles, editor of the gadget news site Pocket-lint.com.
"It was an industry that was just ticking, nobody was really so excited about it," he says.
"Suddenly, the lock forced us to make zoom calls and quizzes and try to stay connected from home."
Some camera companies offer software updates, he says.
For example, this week Nikon released an update that allows users to turn their digital SLR (DSLR) cameras into makeshift webcams.
"You may see other lighting innovations or (companies) selling lights to wrap around your laptop screen and get a better lighting experience," adds Miles.