COVID-19: Device Purchase and Browser Usage
An increase in guns and ammo sales and booming media consumption are some effects of COVID-19 quarantine measures in the US. In China, there has been an increase in TV viewership and the use of social messaging platforms like WeChat. According to research findings, the COVID-19 outbreak and quarantine measures in both China and the U.S. have led to an increase in media consumption and communication via social messaging apps.
Insights into Device Purchases and Internet/Browser Usage Following the COVID-19 Outbreak in the United States
Guns and Ammo Sales Increase
- Throughout the U.S., gun and ammo sales have skyrocketed since the outbreak of COVID-19. On Friday, March 25, applications for firearms increased at the King County Sheriff's Department to more than 400 applications, and an additional 400 applications were expected on Monday.
- Sales of companies selling ammunition are among those that are climbing rapidly. For instance, Ammo.com, an ammunition company, saw its sales jump by over 70% since the outbreak of COVID-19.
- Data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) indicates that during January and February, it conducted background checks for over 5 million guns, an increase of over one million guns compared to the same period last year.
- According to experts, the increases in sales are likely to profit gun and ammo companies. Moreover, there are no signs of any violence stemming from the outbreak of COVID-19.
Booming Media Consumption
- According to a recent Nielsen report, media consumption across the U.S. is likely to surge following the COVID-19 pandemic. Similar crises in the past have increased TV usage by over 60%.
- In the Seattle/Tacoma metro area, Nielsen saw a surge of 20% in TV usage on Wednesday, March 11, compared to a week earlier. Likewise, New York and Los Angeles experienced a climb of 8% during the period.
- According to Nielsen, streaming during this period increased substantially by 61%. Remote employees working from Monday through Friday are now watching, on average, three more hours of traditional TV programming (25 hours and 2 minutes) compared to non-remote workers who are watching for 21 hours and 56 minutes.
Grocery Delivery and News Apps Downloads Surge
- Downloads for grocery delivery apps have increased drastically throughout the U.S. following the COVID-19 outbreak. From February to Sunday (March 15), Instacart, Shipt, and Walmart Grocery apps have seen daily download increases of 218%, 124%, and 160%, respectively.
- Except for Shipt, both Instacart and Walmart Grocery see, on average, 20,000+ downloads daily. Target's app saw over 53,100 downloads on Sunday, March 15, compared to a month ago, when it saw 25,000+ downloads daily.
- Equally, research firm Apptopia reports that the daily downloads of the New York Times and Washington Post apps are up 58% and 76%, respectively, compared to January 2020. The Wall Street Journal app downloads have also risen by 39% during the same period.
- The year-over-year app downloads for the Washington Post are up 65% to 7,410 daily downloads. For the New York Times, the surge is 28,210 daily downloads (48% annual increase), while the Wall Street Journal app has witnessed a 20% gain, equivalent to 6,460 daily downloads.
Collaboration Platforms Witness Increasing Usage
- Collaboration platforms, including Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, Neat, Zoom, etc., have witnessed unprecedented increases in traffic, usage, and downloads.
- For example, on March 11, an estimated 343,000 people worldwide downloaded the Zoom app. Of those, 60,000 were in the U.S., an increase from 27,000 downloads two months ago.
- On March 13, Neat saw a record number of orders for the weekend of March 14-15, versus any other weekend since its inception in October 2019.
- According to Frost & Sullivan data, COVID-19 is building an unprecedented base of new users and a rapid increase in usage among existing customers. These new trends will likely have a significant impact on technology adoption and growth in the future.
Usage of Streaming Platforms Increases
- According to a report by Search Engine Journal, the number of Americans consuming live video on Facebook has climbed by 50% since January.
- Netflix streaming data hits record highs according to AT&T traffic data. The streaming platform's shares increased by 8.4% on Monday, March 23. According to AT&T, Netflix data traffic on its network reached an all-time high during the March 21-22 weekend.
- According to experts, Netflix's first-quarter 2020 subscriber adds are expected to exceed 10 million new subscribers, an increase of 40% higher than Netflix's anticipated 7 million new subscribers.
- Other experts say that Netflix is a beneficiary of the coronavirus outbreak. Globally, the company is eliminating the streaming of high-quality videos in HD and Ultra HD formats to save bandwidth during this crisis.
Insights into Device Purchases and Internet/Browser Usage Following the COVID-19 Outbreak in China
Increased App Downloads
- During the first two weeks of February, China's quarantine measures led to a 40% jump in the average weekly downloads of apps, versus the average for 2019.
- In the same month, China's "weekly game downloads on Apple devices" increased by 80% compared to the same period in 2019. As of February 20, China's gaming app downloads had exceeded 60 million.
- Other leading app downloads include education apps witnessing approximately 20 million downloads, entertainment about 15 million downloads, and photo and video apps with around 13 million downloads. Lastly, business apps saw about 7 million downloads.
- Overall, research findings suggest that these downloads led to an increase in media consumption, especially during the COVID-19 outbreak.
A Surge in Enterprise Collaboration
- The isolation measures implemented across China also led to an increase in the use of enterprise collaboration software such as Alibaba’s DingTalk, WeChat Work, and Tencent Meeting.
- Huawei's WeLink Tool acquired over 15,000 new clients in a single day. The increase in the use of collaboration tools forced DingTalk to add 20,000 cloud servers to support the overwhelming traffic.
- On March 13, Microsoft Teams collaboration platform saw a 500% jump in calls, conferences, and meetings throughout China. The Microsoft Teams platform also witnessed a 200% increase in usage on smartphones and mobile devices.
- In February, Cisco Webex said that the number of meetings and total minutes had doubled in China, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea. Overall, experts warn that the increase in usage of these platforms would result in supply chain disruptions.
Spike in the Usage of Messaging Platforms
- Messaging platforms usage across the world, and China continue to expand following COVID-19 quarantine measures. According to statistics, since the outbreak of COVID-19, WhatsApp saw a climb of over 40% in usage because of social distancing and increased reliance on digital communications.
- WhatsApp usage during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic jumped by 27% globally, while the surge increased to 41% during the mid-phase. Likewise, Facebook and Instagram usage have expanded since the outbreak by over 40% due to increased usage by under 35-year olds.
- China's WeChat and Weibo messaging platforms also saw a 58% increase in usage during the COVID-19 outbreak. Shares of China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom declined amid the COVID-19 isolation measures.
Increase in the Usage of WeChat and Gaming Apps
- China's WeChat seems to be performing exceptionally in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The social messaging platform is experiencing a significant surge in usage.
- As of March 18, Tencent claims that WeChat had amassed over 8 billion visits since February. The increase is a result of customers logging in to access health codes and guidelines on traveling during the pandemic.
- The company also posted Q4 results, which indicate that it made a profit of ¥21.6 billion (£2.6 billion), a 52% increase year-on-year.
- Tencent's online gaming divisions also posted a 25% jump in revenue following the success of mobile games like Peacekeeper Elite and PUBG Mobile.
China's TV Viewership Expands
- According to a Nielsen report, TV viewership in China expanded significantly following the COVID-19 outbreak. Surprisingly, viewership rates were high during the Lunar New Year, when usually viewership numbers are down.
- TV consumption continues to rise across North Asia in many other countries, including Taiwan, where TV viewership grew by one million during the first three weeks of February.
- According to TV viewership data released by CC Data and Hong Kong Television Broadcasts Ltd, TV viewership in mainland China expanded exponentially during the COVID-19 outbreak.
- The COVID-19 outbreak is facilitating changes in media consumption besides increasing TV viewership. For instance, some regions in Asia impacted by the coronavirus saw an increase in both TV viewership penetration and time spent.
To uncover insights surrounding device purchases and internet/browser usage related to the quarantine and working from home because of the COVID-19 outbreak in the past four weeks, your research team leveraged reports published by various research companies like Nielsen and Forrester, along with articles published by news vendors such as Fox8, Variety (entertainment news), and Q13 FOX News. We also checked publications by technology news vendors like Capacity Media, TechCrunch, and No Jitter, along with social commerce platforms like Scommerce, and marketing platforms like Search Engine Journal. Importantly, we searched for information published in the past four weeks to provide a more unobstructed view of the impact of COVID-19, especially during March. In this regard, all the content provided above reflects the most recent happenings following the COVID-19 pandemic in China and the U.S.