ChinaMarket Insights

Mobile App Revenues Surge in China amid the COVID-19 Outbreak

By 26 April, 2020June 30th, 2023No Comments

People using mobile phones on Shenzhen metro

Self-quarantines, social distancing and people working from home has resulted in an increasing demand for mobile applications, resulting in both surging downloads and revenue streams for Chinese app developers.

That the COVID-19 outbreak has caused several negative effects on both the Chinese economy and quality of social living is unquestionable. However, in some industries, the outbreak has brought some positive trends. The mobile usage in China has gone up 30 percent compared to the same months last year, as both business and education apps has seen a big demand increase since the working from regulations was introduced. Now, the daily average usage of cell phones in China is over five hours. Education apps alone has seen a daily download increase of 66% world-wide since March.

Further, several Chinese platforms for remote conference calls and communications are being recommended by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), such as Alibaba’s DingTalk and ByteDance’s Feishu. Remote conference calls and working from home have been commonly widespread across Europe and the US for quite some times, making the current situation not affecting the normal working life to much. However, the penetration rate of these platforms in China have been quite low until now, laying the foundation for big growth opportunities in times like these.

China’s huge user base is driving increasing downloads and revenues across several app verticals, mobile gaming beeing one of those. As restrictions of physical social gatherings continue, those who find themselves stuck at home have found new platforms for entertainment. According to App Annie, the world leading provider of mobile markets data, two Chinese app developers takes the first and second place in the global ranking of app developers based on revenue. Tencent, the Chinese gaming and social media operator, tops the list, and NetEase, a Chineses gaming company, took a second place in the ranking. As those still stuck at home will continue to spend even more time with the phone, the future for the gaming developers looks bright moving forward.

Apart from gaming, Chinese consumers have also turned to social media platforms to keep in touch with their loved ones, as well as video streaming platforms to keep entertained. Media streaming apps world-wide have surged 90 percent in non-organic (downloads that happens as a result of marketing) installs since March. In China, Doyin, TikTok’s Chinese sister app, saw an average daily increase of 27 minutes per user between the end of the Lunar New Year and 9th of February.

People trapped inside are also turning to mobile apps for their essential needs. Fresh Hema, a grocery delivery app by Alibaba, saw more than a 300 percent increase in its average monthly downloads in February, and Meituan, one of the biggest food delivery companies in China said that they are receiving four times the numbers of orders compared to the same period last year. Meituan has also seen an increase in orders meant for more than one person, which deviates from the traditional one-meal orders they usually receive. The rapid increase of orders even caused a shortage of food couriers.

In conclusion, the digital sector has been one of the major beneficiaries during the virus outbreak with education, work, gaming, video streaming and social media applications, as well as digital food delivery services as the biggest gainers. Going forward, there is a big chance that the newly adapted digital habits by the Chinese consumers will live on, even when the virus is fully contained, and the situation is back to normal.

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