- Time spent on mobile devices this year has increased the most in China and Italy, two countries where confirmed cases of the coronavirus have been most concentrated, per a report that app analytics company App Annie provided to Mobile Marketer. Daily time spent on mobile devices last month surged 30% to five hours a day on average in China from a year earlier, and by 11% to 2.7 hours in Italy.
- Business and education apps saw a surge in usage in China as the country introduced policies to urge people to work from home and to practice social distancing. During the first half of February, the downloads of business and education apps doubled from a year earlier, including apps such as Huawei Cloud WeLink, DingTalk and Zoom Cloud Meetings. People also have increased their use of finance apps to manage their money digitally, per App Annie.
- TikTok last month saw record activity in China as usage of the viral video app surged 130% to more than 3 billion total hours during the week of Feb. 2. The average time per user also hit a record 7.5 hours a week in China, App Annie found.
The coronavirus pandemic has become a watershed moment for the world's mobile economy as people rely on their smartphones to handle a variety of tasks while social distancing, as App Annie's research indicates. Its findings suggest that the U.S. will soon see a similar jump in mobile activity as businesses urge people to work from home and government authorities order the closure of public gathering places like schools, restaurants, theaters, bars, nightclubs and concert venues. In turn, mobile marketers must prepare for this increased usage, both when advertising on mobile and when developing and maintaining apps.
Mobile games experienced a jump in downloads as isolated consumers turned to their smartphones for entertainment. In China, mobile game downloads surged 80% in February from the 2019 weekly average, and by 35% in South Korea, per App Annie. "Slap Kings," "Woodturning," "Draw Climber" and "Brain Test: Tricky Puzzles" this month were among the most downloaded games in countries experiencing significant coronavirus outbreaks, including China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, the U.K. and U.S.
In addition to mobile games, streaming video apps saw a surge in activity. Roku and Pluto TV during the first week of March entered the top 10 video streaming apps by weekly time spent, knocking out ESPN and YouTube TV — which is separate from the top-ranked YouTube app. Pluto TV, which this month revealed a brand refresh as part of its biggest ad campaign, boosted time spent with its app 75% from a week earlier on Android phones in the U.S., App Annie found. As the researcher notes, movie studios are adapting to the demand for more in-home entertainment by streaming movies that are currently running in theaters. For example, Disney released "Frozen 2" early on its Disney+ streaming app and pushed out "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" for digital rental.
At the opposite end of the usage spectrum, ride-sharing apps saw steep declines in downloads as fewer mobile users ventured outside. In China, Didi's downloads plunged 75% from a peak to a trough between Jan. 29, 2019, to March 7, 2020. In France, downloads of BlaBlaCar dropped 65% from a high to a low during the same period analyzed by App Annie.