India’s lockdown is making life hard for its most popular apps
The coronavirus pandemic, which has forced billions of people to stay home, has led to a surge in new downloads of several consumer and enterprise focused apps in the west. But in India, the biggest open market globally, things have taken a slightly different turn.
Daily downloads for several popular apps including TikTok, WhatsApp, Truecaller, Helo, Vmate, Facebook, Google Pay, and Paytm have either remained unchanged in the last three months or taken a dip, according to a TechCrunch analysis of figures provided by research firm Apptopia.
Additionally, several popular apps that offer in-app purchases have seen their revenue dramatically drop in the last four weeks as most companies in India recommended employees to work from home and New Delhi imposed a 21-day nationwide lockdown — which has today been extended to May 3.
TikTok was downloaded 20.2 million times in India in a 31-day period ending April 12, down from 21.6 million times in the month of January, for instance. During the same period, WhatsApp’s download plummeted to 12 million from 17 million; Hotstar fell from 9.8 million to 3 million; and ByteDance’s Helo dropped from 10.5 million to 7.5 million.
For most of February, TikTok saw more than 700,000 downloads a day in India, peaking at 891,000. In the last one week, volume of daily downloads of the app has fallen below 450,000. WhatsApp’s figure has dropped from about 650,000 to below 250,000, according to Apptopia .
WhatsApp and TikTok remain the most popular apps in the country. Eight people out of 10 in India have WhatsApp installed on their phones, for instance, while TikTok has been installed by four. There is a possibility that their penetration have peaked for now, but analysts TechCrunch spoke to did not have a definitive explanation.
There is also no explanation for why other apps are seeing a drop in their downloads. It’s worth pointing out that while volume of downloads is suggestive of an app’s growth, it does not imply new users. Also, reports about volume of downloads for different apps surging in other markets were published two to three weeks ago. It’s possible that things have started to level out in other places, too.
Aarogya Setu, an app launched by the Indian government to help people know if they have been in the vicinity of someone who has tested positive for coronavirus, is currently topping the chart in India with more than 780,000 downloads a day.
Tinder clocked $319,102 in in-app revenue on the App Store and Google Play Store in India between March 13 to April 12, down from $547,103 in January. Netflix’s in-app revenue fell from $285,562 to $192,154 during the same period. LinkedIn and YouTube also observed a decline.
One app that has seen its in-app revenue improve noticeably is Hotstar, which went from $173,253 to $329,675. Disney launched Disney+ atop Hotstar in India earlier this month.
Grocery delivery apps BigBasket, which raised $60 million last week, and Grofers have surged considerably, while Amazon, Flipkart, and Snapdeal that have halted taking non-essential orders in recent weeks have seen a decline in volume of daily downloads and active users on Android in India, according to marketing research firm SimilarWeb.
Zoom, a popular video chat app, has seen its daily downloads surge to over 500,000 in recent weeks, up from about 9,000 in early February. Ludo King, a popular game in Asian markets, has seen its daily download figure jump from about 150,000 in early February to over 450,000 in India in recent days.
As people stay at home, desktop usage has also increased in India, a mobile-first nation with nearly half a billion smartphone users.
“India has consistently seen mobile web browsing account for the heavy majority compared to the desktop, however from February to March, desktop usage increased its share of total visits to the top 100 sites by 1.6%. While this may seem small, it is 1.6% of 31.32 billion visits, so it is still rather significant,”.