China's coronavirus lockdown is economically terrible for almost everyone except delivery, news, and gaming apps

Wuhan coronavirus phone barbed wire


A woman uses her mobile phone behind barbed wire at an entrance of a residential compound in Wuhan, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak, Hubei province, China February 22, 2020.

  • Analysis of China's app usage shows that citizens are turning to their phones to keep themselves entertained and fed during the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Social media, news apps, and video games have all seen a significant increase in installs and engagement according to analysis by Goldman Sachs.
  • Sensor Tower also found food and delivery app downloads have spiked.
  • Markets are rattled by the potential spread of the coronavirus, with Apple, Disney, and Starbucks all seeing disruption to business.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Stats about China's app usage give a glimpse into what quarantined life amid the coronavirus is like.

Analysis from Goldman Sachs reveals how mobile internet use has changed in China since the Lunar New Year, when the coronavirus outbreak started to pick up steam.

Overall mobile internet usage increased by an average of 1 hour and 14 minutes between the Lunar New Year and February 9, according to Goldman Sachs. Figures provided to the Financial Times by App Annie last week showed that app downloads overall soared by 40% in the first two weeks of February.

In particular Goldman Sachs noted social media, news apps, and video games saw an uptick in both installs and user engagement as quarantines and city lockdowns spread across China.

Short-form video apps like Douyin, TikTok's Chinese sister app, saw a daily increase of 27 minutes per user. Widespread quarantines have prompted Chinese citizens to find novel ways of keeping themselves entertained via Douyin, including throwing virtual "cloud raves."

While it is usual for gaming to see a surge during the Lunar New Year holiday period, it was compounded this year by the crisis. Sensor Tower reports that two of China's most popular games - "Honor of Kings" and "Game for Peace" - both went down from server overloads in the last few weeks. "Honor of Kings" also saw a 20% bigger revenue increase than last year's holiday period.

People trapped inside their homes are also turning to mobile apps for more essential needs. Food and grocery delivery apps also saw a huge surge according to analytics site Sensor Tower. Fresh Hema, a grocery delivery app owned by Chinese tech giant Alibaba, saw 100,000 downloads on February 8 - more than triple its average daily install figure of 29,000.

Overall, markets are rattled by potential impact of the novel coronavirus. Major firms including Apple, Disney, Nike, and Starbucks have issued warnings about the impact to business, and travel lockdowns may put several airlines out of business.

Wuhan, the city where the outbreak first originated, has been on lockdown since January 23 with its 11 million residents unable to take public transport or leave the city. China placed a further 15 cities on lockdown, meaning roughly 50 million people are quarantined.


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