Zoom, Slack, and other teleconferencing apps surge in popularity


The number of business app downloads in the first week of March.

Sensor Tower via Reuters

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Reuters, citing data from Sensor Tower and Apptopia, reports teleconferencing apps are teeming with new users. In the first week of January, these business apps pulled 1.4 million new users in Google and Apple’s app marketplaces. In the first week of March, that number skyrocketed to 6.7 million. Apps like Zoom, WeChat, Slack, and Microsoft Teams are benefitting from a rising remote workforce, but most of these new users are using already free or newly free services.

Good for business? — Zoom’s active daily users have increased by 67 percent since early January, but these numbers are largely for the company’s free model. Slack is seeing similar user growth in the same way and simultaneously losing out on money-making enterprise deals due to the coronavirus.

These companies, along with Google Hangouts Meet and Microsoft Teams, have unlocked premium features to better facilitate this workforce transition. Other than Johnson&Johnson, maker of Purell hand sanitizer and Tylenol, these companies are being hit the least or not at all by the plummeting stock market. Whether these freemium users will pay for these features in the future is a tough bet to make, especially given the intense circumstances, but not everyone’s in the same boat. The surge in usage has, however, brought certain privacy concerns to light.

“Across the board, no one is immune, but some are better positioned,” Jefferies analyst Brent Thill told The Wall Street Journal, in reference to Big Tech companies. “If you’re Zoom, Slack or another collaboration app, you’re going to have a stronger tailwind given this environment.”

Not a fluke — DA Davidson analyst Rishi Jaluria told Reuters, however, “We have to consider that some of these changes may be irreversible, when (hopefully) things return to normal.” Presuming a return to normalcy in the next few months, usage of these apps may drop off, but there will likely still be higher numbers than when we went into this.

Most notably, the mass adoption of these tools has shown how accommodations for people with disabilities can be achieved in workplaces and schools. At the very least, there will be increased pressure on these institutions to improve accessibility.