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The Impact of COVID-19 on Mobile App Downloads in Luxembourg and Beyond

The COVID-19 outbreak has caused seismic shifts in the way consumers and businesses interact. Some digital businesses in particular have gained momentum. Daily time spent on mobile devices last month surged +30% to five hours a day on average in China from a year earlier, and by 11% to 2.7 hours in Italy- two countries where confirmed cases have been most concentrated, per a report by app analytics company App Annie.
by: Vaishnavi Ramakrishnan
photo: Kon Karampelas on Unsplash

Listen to article (Part I)

As lockdowns turn into the new normal, governments and businesses across the world have responded with containment measures. China was the first wave, followed by Italy, South Korea, then France and Germany. People are turning to digital services as they are encouraged or mandated to stay home — to seek information, continue working, be entertained, and fill the gaps of regular life. As mobility in Luxembourg stands restricted, consumers here are also exploring newer avenues of recreation and relaxation, leading to a surge in mobile app downloads and spends.

How has Luxembourg responded? Here are the Top 20 Apps ranked by downloads on iOS devices in Luxembourg over the last three months vs. Q4’19, according to App Annie.

Entertainment Apps Help Pass the Time

Consumers are definitely turning to social media and video streaming apps for entertainment.

TikTok: More users in Luxembourg are downloading TikTok and spending more time on it on average. ByteDance-owned short video app TikTok has seen explosive growth here (+99% vs. last quarter), followed by WhatsApp and Instagram. TikTok is a platform that is increasingly popular with millennials who create and watch short-looped videos. It has also turned into a social network of sorts in efforts to attract viewers.

Houseparty has also seen explosive growth, virtually filling the gap created by social distancing. While apps like ZOOM and Microsoft Teams are being used to maintain professional and personal lives, Houseparty focuses on socializing online using games. The ability to play multiple games while socializing is what sets the app apart. In the week starting March 15, Houseparty downloads in Luxembourg totaled 7k downloads, a growth of +750%! compared to its previous quarter. It has become several countries’ most downloaded mobile app overnight. Be careful with downloading this one, though. It has come into scrutiny for privacy breaches after rumors that the game allowed user’s data to be hacked.

Netflix: Netflix has seen a +10% growth in app downloads in Luxembourg with an additional +9k downloads. All the couch bingeing may provide distraction for some but the European Commission has expressed concern over high quality streaming causing a strain on internet bandwidth, ultimately impeding bandwidth for those who are trying to work from home. On March 19th, Netflix, Amazon and YouTube announced that they would limit the bit rate of videos in Europe and UK—meaning that videos would render in SD instead of HD. While Disney+ is not on Luxembourg’s list of top apps this quarter, it launched in Europe (not available in Luxembourg, yet) on March 24th, and generated about 5 million downloads across its 7 new European markets including the United Kingdom and Germany, on launch day. We’ll have to wait to see how it fares here!

Fighting work battles virtually

Following the introduction of work from home and social distancing policies, we saw usage in video conferencing apps skyrocket. According to App Annie, “business conferencing apps had their biggest week ever last month—a record 62 million downloads in just a week’s time.”

Microsoft Teams: In Luxembourg, Teams and Outlook have seen a +88% and +33% growth in downloads this quarter. Teams is a Microsoft video conferencing app that allows you to host events for up to 10,000 participants with high-quality audio, video, screen sharing, and the same security and compliance of Office 365. As more companies work remotely, Teams is a great option to supplement existing Microsoft products, such as Outlook. ZOOM Cloud Meetings has also suddenly become a household name. Globally, we have seen ZOOM Cloud Meetings top download charts across many markets.

With increasing COVID-19 cases, local reporting and retail apps are seeing a rise.

RTL.lu saw a +130% rise in app downloads this quarter. More consumers are looking to local news sources to stay updated on what’s happening around them while they stay indoors.

Eboo: While the traction on most top apps is driven by lockdowns, others have organically gained traction because of launches earlier this year. Eboo is a new e-banking tool that launched earlier this year. It offers users a view of all accounts and cards, allows them to carry out transactions in complete security, and communicate with Post Finance employees if necessary. It too was one of Luxembourg’s top downloaded apps last quarter (~7k downloads).

Distributor Lidl launched its first loyalty card program in Luxembourg earlier this year and it, too, seems to be getting traction. Lidl Plus is an application that allows customers to benefit from digital reduction coupons that can be scanned during checkout. It has seen around 6k downloads over the last three months on iOS devices.

Looking Forward, Our Digital Behavior Will Reflect Our Preferences as We Weather This Storm

How we behave digitally is essentially a reflection of our lives — what matters to us, what is helping us pass time, and what is connecting us to the world at large. While, we expect COVID-19’s impact to influence our digital behavior for the weeks to come, we expect to see new behavioral trends emerge in nearly every industry that will hopefully create opportunities for when businesses, finally, resume.

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