Statistics are beginning to emerge about app usage on mobile networks during the pandemic.
Some you could guess.
Zoom is on the up (and up). Deliveroo and other food delivery companies are also on the up. Uber, not so much. City Mapper down, too.
What is interesting is what is going on with health app usage. And it points to what the next wave of successful apps might look like in sectors such as healthcare.
At first glance, they are all fitness apps that tell you about how well you are doing, whether you are exercising right, how much sleep you are getting, whether your heart rate is about right.
And, of course, they tell you to ‘Move!’ Now. Normally just after a 5K run.
So, why the difference? Why does Strava and Map my Run increase so dramatically and Fitbit fall away?
The reason is that in the absence of physical contact and a supporting community, which you would find at a gym, running or cycling club, Strava provides a replacement. You form your community; you can like each other’s efforts, you can comment, provide encouragement, even recommend (tactfully) improvements. It is the Facebook of health.
Map my Run is different. It lets your running shoes talk to an app that becomes your coach when you run. And if you are a runner you will understand that if you are doing a 5K, someone speaking in your ear and saying ‘your split time was x, let’s step it up a little’ or ‘reduce your stride but increase your pace’ makes a lot of sense and helps you train.
Fitbit, on the other hand, just tells you about you, in isolation. It is, of course, useful but when the EE report says that the decrease in usage is because ‘people’s movement throughout the day has reduced’ it misses the point. Fitbit has no community about it.
Of course, these statistics on app usage are influenced by the pandemic and the restrictions under which we are living. When lockdown eases, it will be interesting to see how much the numbers go back to ‘normal’ and how much the trend stays the same.
We have said before that social networks like Facebook are fine, but they will pave the way for more local and community-based networks – and this report presents strong evidence.
The next wave of apps will be much more focused on community and mutual support and this may well be a larger, longer trend.
We will wait and see what the app usage reports say when ‘all this’ is over.