How COVID-19 changed the growth outlook for apps

The four-year CAGR for a variety of app categories has been bolstered by the pandemic, with education now poised for the largest bump.

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Another side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic is showing up in four-year compound annual growth rates (CAGR) for software applications, new data presented by Trading Platforms shows. Driven largely by pandemic lockdowns, the largest four-year CAGR is in the education app sector, which is projected to hit 62% in 2021. 

"As the virus raged on, the education sector in many parts of the world was forced to shut school in all levels including University, and had to transition into 'distance-learning' at home," report author Rex Pascual said in Trading Platforms' writeup of the data.

SEE: COVID-19 workplace policy (TechRepublic Premium)

Education apps, Pascual said, were also buoyed by the fact that many parents who were used to working out of the house while children were at school now had to contend with both parties being stuck at home with no less work to do than before. Entertainment options for children were also affected by the pandemic, and educational apps stepped up to fill those extracurricular gaps as well.

Six other categories of apps were considered in the study and were ranked based on their four-year CAGR:

  • Business (57%)
  • Streaming (43%)
  • Shopping (40%)
  • Food delivery (38%)
  • Finance (35%)
  • Fitness (23%)

Each of those six categories owe their growth to the COVID-19 pandemic, the report states, because each stood to benefit from lockdowns and general fears of being in crowded public spaces.

The report said that Zoom was one of the largest contributors to business application's CAGR, as it was used by businesses, schools, and also individuals who were isolated from friends and family. 

Shopping and food delivery are projected for large CAGRs thanks to the pandemic as well: Mobile shopping and contactless delivery have been major contributors, and the report also notes that Black Friday and Cyber Monday posted record sales during the 2020 holiday shopping season, largely thanks to huge shifts in the percentage of people shopping online versus in-store.

SEE: Big data's role in COVID-19 (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Finance applications also saw growth thanks to less people visiting banks and the economic instability caused by the pandemic, and fitness apps are projected to grow thanks to the closure of gyms and fitness centers and a turn toward working out at home. 

The numbers presented by Trading Platforms are projections that go through 2021, meaning they could change if the world is able to return to some semblance of face-to-face normality in the next 12 months. Dr. Anthony Fauci said in December 2020 that a return to some degree of normality is possible by the end of 2021, but he prefaced that with the condition that the US needs to vaccinate 75% to 80% of the population by the end of summer 2021.

It's just as likely that these apps will experience significant growth this year as it is that we'll be stuck at home for at least the next six to eight months.

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