On March 11th, 2020, the World Health Organization officially labeled the outbreak of the novel coronavirus a pandemic. In response, governments across the globe have issued a variety of edicts aimed at attenuating the spread of the disease. However, as pragmatic as national quarantines may be, they nevertheless impose substantial economic consequences. App download statistics provide some intriguing insights into the ramifications of such measures.
In this article, we’ll focus on remote connectivity. During an era of social distancing and “Shelter in Place” orders, technologies like video chat, instant messaging, webcams, and high-speed Wi-Fi give people the ability to stay connected to family, friends, and colleagues all over the world.
Moreover, platforms like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Skype enable businesses to remain productive while employees are required by law to work from home.
For this reason, we here at 42matters thought it might be prudent to keep an eye on the trajectory of video conferencing apps amid the coronavirus pandemic. And it turns out we were right to do so.
By deploying our unique arsenal of machine learning algorithms to analyze app download statistics from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, we discovered that video conferencing apps like Microsoft Teams have become extremely popular.
App download statistics show the strength of video conferencing apps
Over the last 30 days, two trends have emerged:
- Governments all over the world have shut down aspects of economic and social activity to stem the transmission of coronavirus.
- Video conferencing apps have skyrocketed in popularity.
Now, the normal caveats apply; namely, correlation does not imply causation. Nevertheless, these two trends seem to be very tightly linked.
Take a look at the graph below, which tracks Google Play daily downloads of the video conferencing app Microsoft Teams in the period between February 23rd, 2020 and March 23rd, 2020.
Downloads of the Microsoft Teams app took off around March 11th, the same date that the WHO declared coronavirus a pandemic.
Microsoft Teams leads the way
We’ve singled out Microsoft Teams here for good reason: It’s the perfect tool for businesses looking to boost the productivity of remote workers.
It facilitates workplace chat, video conferencing, file storage, application integration – and it’s free to download!
Moreover, because it's compatible with Outlook and Office 365, businesses that leverage these tools can deploy the platform quickly, without having to do much heavy lifting.
This combination of factors has helped make Microsoft Teams one of the biggest winners by far of the coronavirus-induced video conferencing boom.
Indeed, as of March 23rd, 2020, ‘Teams’ was the most popular app, regardless of category, in Croatia, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, and the United Arab Emirates:
How has Microsoft Teams handled increased usage?
A quick look at our App Market Explorer shows that the Washington-based tech giant has been extremely busy during the coronavirus pandemic. Take a look at a recent changelog, which we pulled from the Explorer:
(See what other developers have been doing during the coronavirus pandemic.)
Having reached 10 million downloads in late January, Microsoft has since spent a lot of time tinkering with the app’s permissions. They’ve also released three version updates and made two changes to the release notes.
For reference, here’s what Microsoft was up to during the same period last year:
Just two version updates and three changes to the release notes between February and March of 2019. In other words: routine maintenance.
This makes sense, too! As more and more businesses have come to rely on the ‘Teams’ app, a variety of new issues have been discovered.
While this has given Microsoft the opportunity to improve the user experience of ‘Teams,’ it’s also had a negative impact on its average rating, which has ticked down from just under 5 stars to 4.3 stars, with over 260,000 total ratings. Not a precipitous drop, but a drop nonetheless.
This chart from our Explorer tool, once again shows mid-March to be a particular trouble spot:
More evidence that user dissatisfaction coincides with increased usage during the coronavirus pandemic can be found in the sudden upswing in 1 star ratings:
(See how other apps are being rated during the coronavirus pandemic.)
So, what’s driving down Microsoft Teams’ ratings? Judging by the most recent comments, user experience is the likely culprit.
For example, users report that the app unexpectedly shuts down after completing calls and doesn’t recognize their Microsoft Outlook email addresses. Moreover, they note that critical functions, such as the mute function, don’t always work.
To drill down a bit deeper, we used our App Market Explorer to analyze the App Review sentiments for the Microsoft Teams app. These sentiments, which are derived from all reviews of the app since its initial release, show Translation & Internationalization to be a perpetual sticking point for many ‘Teams’ users.
So, while transient user experience problems seem to be driving the most recent spate of negative reviews, it’s also possible that adding new users outside the Anglosphere has exacerbated what was already a blind spot for the app. That is to say, as ‘Teams’ has added more users in countries such as Croatia, Finland, Bulgaria, and Hungary due to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s possible that issues with Translation & Internationalization have become more germane.
App download statistics and other insights from the 42matters App Market Explorer
The App Market Explorer is the ultimate app market research tool. It enables you to explore every app, game, and publisher available on both Google Play and the Apple App Store.
It also provides in-depth visual insights into app download statistics, app categories, app metadata, app rating and review analyses, and more. You can also download this data as CSV and leverage it however you like: In your own algorithms, analyses, products, studies – you name it!
Do you have a particular use case or problem in mind? Schedule a free demo with one of our experts and we’ll show you how the App Market Explorer can be deployed to accommodate your particular needs.