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A man wearing a mask is seen on a street in Shanghai, China, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus. (REUTERS)
A man wearing a mask is seen on a street in Shanghai, China, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus. (REUTERS)

China sees app downloads surge in virus side-effect

  • Since 2 February, downloads of games, apps from Apple’s App Store has been 40% higher than 2019 weekly average
  • While mobile games topped the list of downloads, there was also a significant increase in the download of apps related to education, entertainment, video and business

NEW DELHI : Confined to their homes because of the coronavirus epidemic, millions of people in China are turning to mobile games and apps to break the monotony and to work as well, handing a surprise boost to app developers.

China recorded 222 million downloads of various games and apps from Apple’s App Store since 2 February, according to app analytics firm App Annie. That was 40% more than the average weekly downloads in 2019, according to the company.

While mobile games topped the list of downloads, there was also a significant increase in the download of apps related to education, entertainment, video and business. However, a similar spike in downloads of games and apps wasn’t seen in neighbouring countries such as South Korea and Japan, according to App Annie.

Oliver Jones, co-founder and director of Bombay Play, a Bengaluru-based game developer, doesn’t find it surprising. “The most number of downloads and active usage occur during vacations, resulting in great monetization for app developers. The correlation here is that the more free time people have, the more they look for entertainment."

Modern-day mobile games are a lot more collaborative in nature, with online multiplayer modes and the option to carry out voice chats with other players. “As John Carmack, (computer programmer and former chief technology officer of Oculus VR) recently said, online virtual world games are increasingly becoming social networks, where people are bonding over common interests," said Jones.

In addition to apps and games for entertainment and learning, as pointed out by App Annie, tech companies offering communications and collaborative services have seen a big uptake. With factories, stores and offices closed across various parts of China, organizations are encouraging their workers to work remotely, leading to an increase in video and phone calls in addition to a surge in the use of collaboration platforms that can come in handy for client meetings and internal team briefings, according to UK-based market researcher GlobalData.

The market researcher estimates that spending on communications and collaboration in China will be $40.8 billion in 2020, with services accounting for 91% and applications 8%. The numbers can go up if the outbreak is not contained soon.

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