App Store Trends During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Parsa Saljoughian
Mar 15 · 4 min read
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As COVID-19 continues to spread, Zoom has emerged as the leading tool to help enterprises and schools continue to operate during the crisis. According to data from App Annie, over the weekend, Zoom eclipsed 500K daily downloads, a 5x increase from the baseline. A majority of this is driven by activity in China and South Korea, with recent increases in the US and European markets.

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This got me thinking… what other apps are seeing a surge in downloads? Here’s the quick methodology of my analysis:

  • Focused on the iOS platform, US geography, and non-gaming apps, with categories taken by Apple with some modifications (note that this excludes Android and non-US downloads)
  • Looked at the week-over-week change from 3/8–3/14 vs 3/1–3/7
  • Isolated the top 100 apps that showed the largest absolute increase in downloads and calculated the % change for these apps
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A few notes about the data:

  • This is week-over-week data so there may be some outliers based on launches, promotions, etc.
  • The data will be biased towards companies with a larger base (vs smaller startups)
  • I’ve removed the absolute numbers for individual apps to preserve App Annie’s data

Largest increases across shopping & food, business, and education apps

This data looks at the top 100 apps ranked by week-over-week increases in downloads. The top 3 categories include shopping & food, business, and education.

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As coronavirus continues to spread, more and more people are being advised to self-isolate or quarantine. The CDC has advised people to have sufficient quantities of household items and groceries in the event they need to stay home for a period of time. This has driven a significant increase in online shopping via Target and Costco as well as grocery delivery apps such as Instacart.

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This cohort of apps saw an acceleration in weekly downloads, up 58% vs the week prior to 1.1M.

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As stated above, Zoom has seen a significant increase in downloads over the last few weeks. Business products from Microsoft (Teams, Outlook) and Google (Hangouts) have also seen significant increases. If the trend in the US follows the rest-of-world, we should expect to see continued activity in this category over the coming weeks.

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This cohort of apps saw a 70% increase in downloads over the last week to 1.1M. This is the fastest-growing category from the dataset.

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Zoom is also being used by schools to help move lectures online, but we’ve seen an increase in dedicated educational apps as well, including Remind, Clever, and Canvas, among others.

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This segment of apps saw a surge of downloads in the last week, up 50% week-over-week to ~640K.

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Three other categories that saw strong week-over-week growth include finance, health, and news.

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Apple has cracked down on apps related to coronavirus that aren’t from recognized institutions. There were two credible health apps that saw a surge in downloads last week:

HEALTHLYNKED COVID-19 Tracker 4+

  • This app is now the #1 downloaded app in the medical category and allows users to self-report symptoms and track COVID-19 activity.

CDC

  • The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has an official app that provides citizens with the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19.

Which apps showed the largest drops in downloads?

There were two categories of apps that showed declines last week:

  • Social media apps: Tik Tok, Snapchat, Facebook, Facebook Messenger were among 4 of the top 10 apps that showed week-over-week declines last week.
  • Apps that facilitate in-person activity: McDonalds and Starbucks both saw sharp declines. Neither offers direct delivery and requires in-person pickup. Ticketmaster also saw declines, likely due to the fact that large-scale events are being canceled.

parsa.vc

Investor at late-stage VC firm, IVP.

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