• With a significant proportion of the world's inhabitants living under lockdown, a number of apps have seen a spike in downloads to help people stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Global downloads of Skype, Zoom, and Houseparty have surged by over 100%.

As a significant part of the world population is currently on lockdown in an attempt to contain the coronavirus pandemic, people are turning to technology to work, communicate and stay in touch with their loved ones.

Unsurprisingly, workplace communication tools such as Slack and Teams have seen a jump in usage as working from home has become the new norm in recent weeks. People are also making use of similar tools in their personal lives, however, leading to a spike in downloads of video chat apps.

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Downloads of video-apps have soared has the pandemic has taken hold.
Image: Statista

According to Priori Data, global downloads of Skype, Houseparty and Zoom each surged by more than 100 percent in March, with the latter proving particularly popular among people meeting up virtually while being confined to their homes. The videoconferencing app was downloaded nearly 27 million times this month, up from just 2.1 million times in January.

What is the World Economic Forum doing about the coronavirus outbreak?

Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic requires global cooperation among governments, international organizations and the business community, which is at the centre of the World Economic Forum’s mission as the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.

Since its launch on 11 March, the Forum’s COVID Action Platform has brought together 1,667 stakeholders from 1,106 businesses and organizations to mitigate the risk and impact of the unprecedented global health emergency that is COVID-19.

The platform is created with the support of the World Health Organization and is open to all businesses and industry groups, as well as other stakeholders, aiming to integrate and inform joint action.

As an organization, the Forum has a track record of supporting efforts to contain epidemics. In 2017, at our Annual Meeting, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched – bringing together experts from government, business, health, academia and civil society to accelerate the development of vaccines. CEPI is currently supporting the race to develop a vaccine against this strand of the coronavirus.

While Zoom is definitely the rising star among video chat apps, Skype remains far ahead in terms of active users. According to Priori Data, the Microsoft-owned service had 59 million daily active users on its iOS and Android apps in March, compared to just 4.3 million for Zoom. It needs to be noted though, that many people also use Skype for other ways of communication, while Zoom has specialized on video conferences, so it may not be a fair comparison to make.