Business App Category Soars As Global Population Works From Home

Zoom, Google Hangouts and other video-conferencing apps experienced record downloads this month, as the global population found itself confined at home.

The business app category topped 62 million downloads across iOS and Google Play during the third week in March, according to App Annie.

That was up 45% from the second week in March, and up about 90% from the weekly average of business app downloads in 2019.

“As more employees work from home globally, we are seeing strong demand for tools that enable people to feel connected and foster collaboration,” said Lexi Sydow, senior research insights manager at App Annie.

A standout among apps, demand for Zoom’s Cloud Meetings service has exploded as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.   

During the third week in March, U.S. downloads of the app were 14 times more than the weekly average during the fourth quarter of 2019.

Houseparty, a videoconferencing apps popular among younger users, is doing particularly well in Europe. In Italy, weekly downloads during the third week in March were 423 times more than the weekly average during the fourth quarter of 2019.

Along with strict social-distancing measures throughout Europe, Houseparty is benefiting from its social-networking elements, according to Sydow.

“Social-networking apps tend to benefit greatly from the network effect, where the value for a user increases as more of their friends and family use the app,” she said. “The more people you invite to the calls and use it, the stickier the app becomes.”

In response to the surge in demand, providers are racing to accommodate a broader range of consumers.

Google, for one, is now offering Hangouts’ paid features free of charge, while Zoom is donating its service to students in grades K-12, and Microsoft is offering a free 6-month subscription to Teams.

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