Coronavirus Impact On App Popularity: How Being Stuck At Home Changed Our Online Habits

COVID-19 and the resulting stay-at-home orders, quarantines, and social isolation have changed how people interact with the world around them. Now, many people feel uncomfortable walking out of their home without wearing a mask. Handshakes have been replaced with waves from afar, and social gatherings have given way to communications using Zoom, Skype, or some other form of telecommunication.

The pandemic has also changed the relationship that people have with technology. As a result of physical contact and interaction receding, people are becoming more attracted to and reliant on apps for communication, entertainment, health, and shopping. Most people would not know what to do during the pandemic without access to Netflix, Amazon, or Skype.

There are certain reasons why some apps gained popularity, while some other apps became way less popular during the pandemic. We’ll explain it further.

The Reasons Certain Apps Have Become so Popular

The pandemic has left people feeling like they no longer have control over many aspects of their lives. People are desperately searching for ways to feel like they can manage the world around them while they are in lock down.

Because of this change, some app developers and their partner companies have seen a meteoric rise in users, such as popular social media tools and top apps used to trade stocks online, eg Robinhood. Others have seen their once popular apps lose popularity.

A report shows that during the first quarter of 2020, people spent 20 percent more time using apps than they did during the first quarter of 2019. These same individuals spent $23 billion in app stores. This is an unprecedented number.

Understandably, the apps that were the most downloaded during the first quarter of 2020 are those that are connected to communication and social interaction. Zoom took first place with over 123 million downloads. Other apps in the top 10 include WhatsApp, TikTok, Messenger, Facebook, and Instagram.

There were also apps connected to shopping, like, in the top 10. Netflix rounded out the top 10 list with 43 million downloads during the pandemic. Games that provide a fun yet mindless way to pass the time were popular during the first quarter of 2020. For example, Ludo King has had over 36 million downloads since the beginning of quarantine. Woodturning, GardenScape, and Subway Surfers have also been popular.

Another category of apps that have benefited from this quarantine are those for takeaway food and online shopping. Online banking apps, e-learning, and health and fitness apps have skyrocketed in their downloads. All these apps let people have a sense of control over their activities.

As you can see, the apps that seem to have gained popularity are those that give quarantined individuals a sense of direction, purpose, and control. For example, many people concerned about financial security have turned to using finance and investing platforms to earn additional income. Financial security, along with one's well-being, has been one of the most common themes during quarantine months.

Apps That Have Suffered Because of the Pandemic

While the pandemic has meant a boom for some apps, it has also resulted in losses for others. For example, stay-at-home orders and travel restrictions are not conducive to globetrotting. Apps related to the hospitality industry and travel have seen a drastic decline. If one is to look at the situation reasonably, the travel and hospitality industry should expect these declines to continue for the immediate future.

Services that offer short-term rentals, such as Airbnb, have experienced an unprecedented decline in bookings. Their bottom lines have been impacted by the fact that customers and hosts now demand enhanced cleaning protocols. This has led to a $5 billion devaluation of Airbnb.

What Is the Global Impact of the Pandemic on Apps and Technology Use?

The pandemic has affected different parts of the world in different ways. The use of technology and apps varies from one country or region of the world to another. This has affected how different areas have reacted to the pandemic.

For example, healthcare apps are emerging in South East Asia. People are learning about them, but there are only a few people who actively use these apps. However, there has been a 110 percent increase in the amount of money that has been spent on these apps since the start of the pandemic. Thanks to some positive results, more people are trusting them and recommending them to others. This, coupled with increased advertising in the sector and positive Google reviews, may account for the growth.

Another sector that is seeing geo-related differences in app usage is real estate. When you look at the Middle East and parts of Asia, you see an explosion in the popularity of real estate apps. However, in other parts of the world the same apps are losing popularity. It is yet to be seen if there is a correlation between the lifting of certain restrictions and the increased use of real estate apps.

Coronavirus Has Changed the Way We Interact with Technology

Another change that has been seen in recent months is a shift away from smartphone use and a move toward using laptops and computers. Prior to the pandemic, Americans were opting to play games, communicate with friends and family, and entertain themselves using their mobile device. This led to the industry focusing almost entirely on all things mobile.

However, now that people are spending so much time at home and they have their computers nearby, many seem to remember how frustrating it is to look at a small screen when compared to the larger screens of computer monitors.

Companies like YouTube, Netflix, and Facebook have seen the number of users who connect by phone fall or stay the same. However, their website users have grown. Much of this growth is coming from users connecting from their laptop or their computer.

Schoolwork and office work have migrated to living rooms, bedrooms, and basements around the United States. Apps like Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom have been instrumental in making these changes possible.

Of course, as with any seismic shift, there have been some security concerns. Many of the above-mentioned companies have needed to adjust their privacy policies to meet the new realities of coronavirus.

E-sports was an industry that was on the rise. The pandemic has sped up this growth. Since there are no sports, apps for things like ESPN are fallen by the wayside. However, apps that allow viewers to watch e-sports being played have grown in popularity.

During the pandemic, technology has allowed people to remain connected during this time of crisis. It has made it possible for people to spread reliable information during lock down. The pandemic has made it clear how reliant our society is on technology and the pivotal role apps play in keeping people informed, busy, and sane.
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