China’s coronavirus outbreak has forced millions of people to confine themselves in their homes and this in turn has prompted record downloads of apps and games, according to new data.

Figures shown by the analytics platform App Annie to the Financial Times have revealed that more than 222 million apps and games were downloaded in China from Apple’s online store since February 2nd.

In addition, average weekly downloads of apps during the first two weeks of February soared 40% compared with the average for the whole of 2019.

The development clearly goes against usual trends because an increase in game downloads over the lunar new year normally tails off sharply in the following weeks, the Financial Times reported.

“This year, downloads continued to grow well into the weeks following the lunar new year holidays as millions of workers and students leveraged mobile apps to seek alternative methods to resume daily activities remotely,” explained App Annie.

Mobile games dominated the list of downloads, but since early February there also has been significant demand for apps related to education, entertainment, photo/video and business.

Indeed, with schools and colleges closed in many cities as part of containment measures ordered by the authorities, downloads of education apps in February jumped to twice the average rate for all of 2019.

App Annie did not record a similar spike in downloads of games and apps in neighbouring countries, such as Japan or South Korea, which have been hit by coronavirus too.

As reported by the Financial Times, the spike in downloads has boosted the share prices of games and app developers as well as online education providers in China.

“No one expected that this kind of epidemic could grow so fast, and that created an opportunity for these gaming companies,” said Shawn Yang, managing director at Shenzhen-based Blue Lotus Capital Advisors.

And the trend may continue for months to come because a new survey has found that demoralised Chinese consumers do not expect the outbreak to end any time soon.

According to poll results of 900 people seen by Inside Retail Asia, most consumers in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou expect the crisis to last another 4.75 months before a return to normality.

The survey, conducted by Chinese tech firm Re-Hub and Zectr, a consumer insights company based in Hong Kong, also revealed that people’s priorities are changing with “huge divergences in behaviour across different segments”.

Sourced from Financial Times, App Annie, Inside Retail Asia; additional content by WARC staff