How the coronavirus pandemic has affected mobile app installs

The global corona pandemic has shaken entire economies, but one industry has proven to be extremely resilient: Mobile apps.
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

As we hunker down to await the end of COVID-19 lockdown, our behavior has changed, with mobile app installs increasing due to the change in our behavior, according to a new report.

San Francisco-based SaaS company Adjust has published its Global App Trends 2020 report. The report shows how the coronavirus has affected the app industry worldwide and looks at longer-term trends.

The report highlights differences between paid and organic installs and notes that, as the market becomes increasingly competitive, app marketing is turning into a pay-to-play game. Installs from paid sources amounted to 30% of total installs in 2019, up from 24% in 2018.

Many industries are noticing increases in online sessions and installs during the first quarter of 2020. Gaming has seen a large uptick in installs, as those staying at home seek online entertainment.

How has the coronavirus pandemic affected mobile app installs zdnet

During the last week of March, there was a 132% increase in the number of installs compared to last year. Gaming apps saw a 47% increase in sessions and 75% increase in installs in Q1 2020 compared to Q1 2019.

Gaming apps do not see significant changes in use throughout the day. Casual game activity increases between 12pm and 4pm by 15%. However, mid-core games usage rose from very early in the morning (5am) to peak at 1pm.

As the majority of employees now work remotely, business apps have seen a huge rise in sessions (up 105% compared to Q1 2019), and installs are up by 70%. Revenue events are also up by 75%, as users opt to install premium versions of the software.

As many restaurants are forced to offer takeout food and drink only, food and drink apps also saw a significant increase in sessions which were up 73% compared to the same period last year, and app installs increased by 21%.

Similarly, food and drink apps see a spike in use between 5pm and 8pm, accounting for 31% of total daily sessions.

E-commerce has taken a turn downward as shelter-in-place and social distancing gathered force in late March. 

Installs have been trending below the established baseline for 2020, down 12% week-on-week. E-commerce apps experience a peak of sessions both at lunchtime, between noon and 2pm, and again between 7pm and 10pm, which accounts for a quarter of their daily total.

Paul H. Müller, co-founder and CTO of Adjust, said: " the report shows little evidence to suggest that there's been a fundamental shift in user behavior post-install. Users are still taking the same actions in-app, averaging a little above two sessions a day."

How has the coronavirus pandemic affected mobile app installs zdnet

Competition for your attention is strong, as Disney+, NBCUniversal's Peacock, and WarnerMedia's HBO Max offer streaming to compete with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and many other OTT platforms.

This increase in video streaming shows that audiences are moving increasingly to mobile platforms.

Providers need to shift their attention to these platforms to stop platforms like Facebook Live, Mixer, Twitch, and YouTube Live, from stealing their revenue in this rapidly growing area.

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