Covid-19 & the App Industry: Who Thrived and Who Survived?

Undoubtedly, the COVID-19 pandemic has erupted in economic and social turbulence. Numerous startups, businesses, and economies have been impacted severely. However, we’re looking to cover a different story. The tale of those that have thrived during the pandemic. The mobile and digital world are the first that comes to mind, as some of the industries that weathered this economic storm best.

Many of our readers are probably beginning to inch their way towards post-COVID-19 normalcy. Thus, it is perfect timing to reflect on some of the industries that managed to not only survive, but thrive during this challenging period. In this article we’ll be looking at:

Infographics are provided by the Covid19 Resilience Grant which offers eligible app-based startups up to $10,000 in App Samurai ad credit. The aim of this grant is to support resilient startups that are positively benefiting the community. Get involved here


Streaming Apps

Without a doubt, it has been a prosperous time for streaming apps. Many companies have decided on an early launch of their streaming apps to coincide with the sudden increase in demand. Some of these recently released streaming apps include Quibi, HBO Max, and NBC’s Peacock. Peacock was originally scheduled to launch during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, in July, which was delayed to 2021.

Since researching and completing the below infographics, Facebook has launched its new Venue app and Instagram is testing monetization of IGTV and has launched badges. With the huge demand in content, it is no surprise that streaming sessions are up 30.1 percent.


Education Apps

Education had no choice, but to relocate online, with numerous countries closing schools down during March-May. This mass migration to online schooling has propelled numerous education apps’ performance, such as in-app revenue, active users, and increased retention rate. According to one research conducted by the edtech platform Schoolguru, e-learning usage in India has risen from 1.5 percent to roughly 10 percent post-COVID-19. Whilst due to increased demand and announcement of free lessons, Byju, an educational app saw an increase in 150 percent in the number of new students on its app, with 6 million new users in March alone.


Whilst many parents are grappling to juggling children and work under the same roof, the digital education industry is thriving. Class Tag, an education-based app, and website platform recently announced a $5 million seed investment. This shows that the momentum is not likely to crash to a halt anytime soon.

In fact, whilst the momentum will certainly not continue at this exponential-pace post-COVID-19, there is a strong chance that user behavior will have changed dramatically, resulting in sustained in-app session times, in-app revenue, and user engagement.


News Apps

News is well known to undergo a spike, whenever tragedy strikes. An unfortunate, but undeniable correlation – bad-news is good-business for the news industry. Whilst you might not find too many news sites, selling this story, there are many academics and thought-leaders that propel these ideas. An example is Jon Ronson’s Ted Talk about ‘How one tweet can ruin your life’. In this Ted Talk, he details how media and social media engagement increases from negativity and tragedy. Thus, it is no shock that the news category is the third-highest growing during the pandemic with an over 80 percent increase in downloads during March, 2020.

Whether profiteering or not, news apps are undoubtedly a vital source of information. In a time, where correct hand-washing etiquette can mean life-or-death, news apps, certainly provide a vital service. For example, numerous Reddit communities have been created regarding COVID-19. Their aims stretch from sharing scientific ideas to help find a vaccine, to news and updates.

Thus, as information is one of the strongest defenses against the virus (to stop the spread), we think that the news vertical is one of the best inclusions on this ‘list of thrivers’, during the pandemic.


Health & Fitness Apps

Health and Fitness is surely the most unique out of all these categories. Whilst the Health and Fitness industry, as a whole has faced serious challenges, due to quarantine, digital-based Health and Fitness businesses have experienced an uplift. This has numerous interesting implications:

  • It gives businesses the chance to diversify both their audience/market and their business offerings.
  • Presents an opportunity to test new markets, products, and features.

In a bizarre turn of events, the F.B.I recently released its Health and Fitness App. This is clearly a stark representation of the unique opportunities and effects the pandemic has had on the Health and Fitness industry. Another interesting case-study is that of Nike. They are a highly diverse international business, with traditional and digital media presence, and online and offline business models. Whilst their stock took a massive plunge over March, it has fully recovered as of June (see image at the end of the article).


Social Networking Apps

Social networking apps, again have had a chance to undergo a renaissance. Beyond the expected movers, apps that are slightly left-of-field, such as HouseParty, have had a chance to acquire market share due to people’s dramatically changing social habits and needs. Houseparty managed to surpass Facebook and Facebook messenger in the March, 2020 App Store downloads. This not only shows how appetite in the app industry has changed significantly but also how users are looking for ways to spice-up their house-bound lives.

Additionally, numerous social networking apps have publically announced their shift to remote working. For example, Twitter announced in early May that employees will be able to work from home ‘forever’. This shows that the effects of the pandemic go beyond revenue and in-app engagement metrics.


Final Positive Thoughts

Users have clearly undergone a dramatic shift in user behavior, spending, needs, and habits. This dramatic shift has implications on businesses, economies, industries, and individuals. If anyone wonders about the impacts of COVID-19, then have a look at the aforementioned NIKE stock performance over the last year. This not only perfectly distills the calamity of the pandemic but also provides hope for economic recovery. Additionally, it highlights the importance of agility, and diversification in any business model, as NIKE was able to recover, in-part due to their online business models, including their app.

Nike Stock Performance over the last year

If you or your app-based business is supporting the community and wishes to expand their ability to do so, App Samurai has launched its Covid19 Resilience Grant. The aim is to help build resilient startups that are positively benefiting the community. Get involved here.

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