The COVID-19 Pandemic has proved to be a massive blow to the jaw for many sectors. Most of the firms have had to restructure their business models to even survive. For those companies that could not adapt to the ‘New Normal’ the pandemic brought along huge losses. But this pandemic has also turned out to be an opportunity for many technology firms. With lockdowns being the norm across the world, some tech firms have made use of this opportunity. This has led a boom period for many firms from people being on house arrest.
Streaming services were slowly but surely entering the conscience of people more and more. But the pandemic has accelerated this growth multifold. To fight boredom, more and more people are tuning in to online streaming services for entertainment. Almost 16 million people created accounts in the first three months of the year, Netflix said. That is nearly double the number of new sign-ups it saw in the final months of 2019. While Netflix has been the biggest beneficiary here, we firmly believe that numbers for other popular subscription services like Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ Hostar would also be much higher than usual.
At the same time, PVRs and multiplexes are struggling to sustain and are wary of what the future holds. Major film producers are taking their movies directly on these streaming services and the multiplex owners fear that such a trend can drive them obsolete. Gulabo-Sitabo, a movie starring Amitabh Bachan and Ayushman Khurrana is releasing exclusively this week on Amazon Prime.
Video Conferencing Platforms
With work from home being the new norm, people are turning to video calling services to conduct meetings. This is not exclusive to organisations, people to stay in touch with their friends and loved ones are logging on to these platforms too. Zoom has benefited from this growing trend as the company saw 300 million users in April, as compared to just 10 million last December.
Video conferencing is still seen as a young market. As a result, almost all tech giants have made strides in this segment to lure in users. Facebook’s Messenger Rooms, Google’s Meet, Skype’s Meet Now; these are just some of the services that have been introduced in recent months to cash in on the growing demand for video conferencing. Existing players have also taken steps to lure in more people; with WhatsApp increasing the Group Video Call limit to 8 people; and established players like Microsoft Teams and Cisco WebEx improving their free offering.
Most people believe that the COVID-19 pandemic will have an effect on office culture in the long term; with WFH being much more prevalent than it is today. Thus, it seems like Video Conferencing apps will be important in the near future also.
With gyms being shut down all across, companies are reaching out to people with online workout sessions. Cult.fit has increased its online training sessions so people can work out at home, as its fitness centres across the country are shut. It expects these sessions to continue even after restrictions are lifted, with people expected to avoid crowded places for some time due to fears of a second outbreak.
Many similar apps for workouts and yoga have seen a spike in usage recently. The online diet counselling sector is also expected to grow faster in the near future. Social media platforms like Instagram also saw a spike in-home workout videos being put up by users.
Consumption of content in audio format has also gone up. “Podcast listening creates a little bubble of privacy as it is a very personal experience,” said Kavita Rajwade, co-founder, IVM Podcasts. The platform has seen a 125% increase in consumption of some of its content. Another milestone in the podcasting industry was Spotify acquiring The Joe Rogan show exclusively for its platform. The deal is estimated to be one of the biggest deal ever in the history of audio content with an approximate value of $100 million dollars.
One reason for the increased consumption of Podcasts could be the fatigue people might be feeling with video platforms, since nobody expected to be in lockdown for such a long period. That could explain why people are moving to alternate methods of consuming content.
The Grocery Delivery apps have been among the most important apps during these times. With people hesitant to go out in the market to buy stuff, the demand for grocery delivery has never been higher. But popular apps like BigBasket, Grofers and Milkbasket faced some challenges in the initial days of the lockdown. This was because of a variety of reasons including the manufacturing closing down, a lack of clarity on their operations amidst the lockdown as well as the lack of delivery boys as many of them went home. This resulted in the ordering process on these apps almost turning into flash sales; you would have a delivery slot for a moment and a few moments later it would be gone.
Over time, these issues have been ironed out and now this sector is constantly growing. This has attracted some other players into this sector with Food delivery platforms like Swiggy and Zomato now offering an option to get groceries delivered on their platform.
Apps like Zomato and Swiggy had to shut down their service in the initial phases of the lockdown. However, now the food delivery apps can be seen making a return. These apps had to adapt and introduce some changes in their way of delivery. One of the changes was the no-contact delivery mechanism that is gaining popularity. These services bring some relief to some restaurants as well. Now restaurants can resume their functioning at least by providing food delivery option through these apps.
While there are some organisations who had a business model that was lockdown-proof, others had to adapt and change as per the demands put forward by such an adverse time. Some sectors like smartphone manufacturers are still not able to return to their point of normal in terms of sale. In fact, smartphone sales in 2020 have hit the lowest mark in the last 10 years. Cab service providers like Uber, Ola are still finding it hard to sustain as their services came to a stand-still with the lockdown. Hospitality and Travel industry are still on a halt and have not been able to carry out business. Apps like OYO, Airbnb lost most of their business as people were forced to stay indoors.
As the lockdown eases and the pandemic drops off, we can reasonably expect to have some sort of normalcy return; with the sudden increase in users tapering off, and other sectors picking themselves back up. But one thing is pretty certain, the Pandemic turned out to be a litmus test for companies; and those who passed it can breathe easy with respect to the future.