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Smartphone Usage Plummets During COVID-19 With Surge in Desktop Use

Apr 14, 2020
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Due to the impact of COVID-19, most Americans have been stuck at homes with nowhere to go during the lockdown. During these times, people have been working, playing and staying connected form the comfort of their homes and this has changed how the Internet is being used during this pandemic. Smartphone and app usage have taken massive hits as people rely more on larger screens in their homes which include tablets, desktops, and laptops.

A report by The New York Times presents an analysis of data sourced from SimilarWeb and Apptopia, and how Internet usage trends have shifted from smartphones to large-screen devices. Websites like Facebook, Netflix, and YouTube have seen growth while their smartphone variants have seen a downwards trend in usage.

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Here are the numbers for websites traffic changes, when compared between January and March:

Facebook: 27%

Netflix: 16%

YouTube: 15.3%

On smartphones, the apps for these services have seen a decline in usage:

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Facebook: 1.1%

Netflix: 0.3%

YouTube: -4.5%

One thing that is constant is that people are still using these services a lot and none of the above-mentioned ones have taken a hit in overall usage.

Many video conferencing services have seen major growth in daily usage. Apps and services like Google Duo, Nextdoor and Houseparty have seen strong growth in month-over-month comparisons. These services are mostly used for one-on-one or for personal group chats. Other services, that are also used for professional purposes, like Zoom, have seen their daily usage grow from 2M sessions per day to 6M+ sessions per day. Zoom has been the biggest winner out of all video conferencing services, with all other competitors like Google Hangouts/Meet, and Microsoft Teams lagging behind, despite their growth in popularity. Even Zoom's security issues have not been able to slow it down.Zoom usage

The report also shows that online publishers and newspaper websites have seen an uptick in readership, some by more than 100%, as people flock to them to stay tuned to the latest updates on COVID-19. On the other hand, partisan websites have taken a hit and their readership has fallen.

Websites like Wikipedia, CDC and Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center have also been seeing a lot of traffic as they are the source for important and authentic coronavirus related information.

Sports websites have been seeing traffic fall day-by-day, with ESPN showing a 40.2% reduction in readership. All sports events and competitions around the globe have been cancelled which means that there is nothing new to reports for sports websites. Where sports have seen a decline, gaming has been taking off as people find more time to play at home. Twitch's traffic has gone up by 20% during these times, as streamers continue playing games from home for a larger audience.

Expect these trends to continue for some time as people continue to work from home during this pandemic.

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