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How 2020 has changed the way we use technology



When the first coronavirus lockdowns were imposed outside of China, billions of people around the world were forced to search online for communication, collaboration, entertainment and livelihood.

But the story of the role of technology in the pandemic did not stop there.

Early lockout hits such as Household soon lost its momentum, while some of the biggest breakthroughs of the year, like the game Among us, did not appear until later in the year.

Around the world and in many categories, a unifying theme was that the major sites and services benefited the most – the big ones kept getting bigger. The exception is Zoom, the underdog video app that became a verb; even Microsoft, whose Teams app crushed smaller rivals, couldn’t slow Zoom down.

The following charts are primarily based on results from SimilarWeb, which tracks web browsing data from samples of millions of people, and Apptopia and App Annie, which do the same for mobile apps. . We have chosen to represent either website visits or mobile app usage data, depending on the category, based on what we believe is the most reliable indicator of how the world has used the internet in 2020.

The Internet

The surge in broadband traffic in March and April was so extreme that some video services, like YouTube, were forced to downgrade streaming resolution to preserve bandwidth – an unprecedented move.

Even after lockdowns began to ease in some parts of the world, online activity – where internet access was available – remained high, and the second increase in November was almost as large as that of the spring.

However, not everyone was able to connect online when the lockdowns reduced their activities in the real world. Even in some of the biggest internet markets, like India and China, there are still hundreds of millions of people without regular connectivity. Internet penetration in Africa late again far behind the rest of the world.

Social media and dating apps

Although there were few opportunities for socializing and dating in the real world, the pandemic has only accelerated the growth of major social and communication applications. Facebook The biggest competition is itself, with the use of its Instagram image sharing platform closing in on its stable partner WhatsApp, according to Apptopia, which tracks mobile user behavior.

Twitter annual review of its users’ posts reflected the people who dominated the political and cultural conversation of 2020. Outgoing US President Donald Trump and his successor Joe Biden lead the rankings – alongside the wave of demonstrations against racism in the world that followed the police murder of George floyd – and of course the K-pop group BTS. The most used emoji on Twitter was “laugh-cry” for the third year in a row.

Graph ordered from left to right. Source: Twitter

Streaming entertainment

Netflix exceptional performance also proves the value of being the default choice in a given internet category. Disney plus saw a particularly strong end to the year as families gathered for Thanksgiving, Christmas and other holidays. Popular hits such as King tiger and The Mandalorian, and perhaps the need for a shared distraction from the horrors of daily news, has pushed more people around the world to the same shows.

The virtual office

Back to the “office”, remote work tools and video calls were essential. (This chart only shows data from the web, so it excludes activity in apps on desktops or mobile devices.) The internet’s ability to focus attention has once again taken hold, with Zoom disproportionately benefiting although Microsoft Teams and Google Meet were available for free in many organizations. Controversies Earlier this year, Zoom’s security and privacy controls seemed to be overwhelmed by convenience.

Video calls have become a must, even for EU summit participants © Olivier Matthys / POOL / AFP Getty Images


From Amazon The dominance of online retailing and Prime shipping benefits made it the go-to option when Main Street was forced to close. But it was the shopping festival invented by Amazon, First day, in October, which has seen the biggest peak of the year so far, with Black Friday seeing further acceleration. Overall, eMarketer analyst group valued that U.S. e-commerce grew 32% in 2020, to 14% of total retail sales.

Food delivery

Food delivery apps were among the hottest tech companies of the year. This has been demonstrated by DoorDash’s successful IPO, which rose over 80% on day one of trading, briefly valuing the company at $ 60 billion and raising expectations for Deliveroo’s the expected stock market debut in 2021. (The group selected in this graph is just a sample of the market, which shows significant regional variations in branding and app availability; UberEats, one of the largest, has was excluded because the food order was merged into the remote support application, complicating a comparable comparison.)

A DoorDash bicycle courier during a delivery in New York © Michael Nagle / Bloomberg

Fitness and wellness apps

Mental Health stood up the company and Politics program in 2020, as hidden costs weeks and months of lockdowns have taken their toll. This prompted more smartphone users to trade the end of the world Twitter for mindfulness and meditation apps like Calm, which raised new financing for a valuation of $ 2 billion in December. But as gyms were forced to close, an even more stark change in mobile habits was seen among workout apps such as Strava and Nike Run Club. Although usage declined slightly from summer peaks in Europe and North America, these exercise tracking apps have managed to retain many of their new users throughout the year. This indicates a more lasting change than the usual New Year’s boost.




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