The Indispensable Bridge to the Physical World
“Social distancing” was a critical strategy for physical well-being during the pandemic. However, especially in the U.S., it led to serious psychological distress among adults. According to a study by the National Institutes of Health, 13.6% of adults reported mental health problems in 2020, compared with only 3.9% in 2018. Furthermore, 25% of adults between the ages of 18 to 29 suffered from mental illnesses due to pandemic-related isolation.
In this situation, it was inevitable that Millennials and Gen Z should turn to their constant companion of pre-Covid times, to help them tide over pandemic blues. The Pew Research Internet Project stated, almost prophetically, in 2012, “In 2020, there will be a widespread belief that the World Wide Web is less important and useful than in the past, and apps are the dominant factor in people’s lives.”
The truth of this anticipation became reality as the deadly virus attacked where people gathered. Individuals turned to their smartphones as the one constant in their comfort zone. Moreover, as entrepreneur Margaret Heffernan aptly said, “The cell phone has become the adult’s transitional object, replacing the toddler’s teddy bear for comfort and a sense of belonging.”
The unstemmed rise of apps leading from this reality, is seen through statistics. When the iOS App Store was launched by Apple in 2008, there were 500 apps. Today, Apple has 1.85 million different apps available, while Google Play Store offers 2.56 million more apps. Thus, many choices and conveniences were initiated to ease the stress of daily life.
It was inevitable, then, that the demand for apps would rise when people were confined to their homes, and were unable to hang out with friends. The only avenue to keep in touch seemed to be through apps. Thus, according to studies of revenue of app stores in the first half of 2020, consumers across the world spent a combined total of $50.1 billion on the App Store and Google Play.
There was, in particular, a significant surge of on-demand mobile apps. Remote working during the pandemic led to the need for video conferencing apps, while students needed other types of apps to attend online classes. Likewise, in order to fill the empty hours, people sought out apps to stream movies and play games, and other on-demand mobile apps to order food, groceries, medication, skin care products such as vitamin C serum Australia among a variety of items that were delivered safely to their doorstep. The need to keep fit without the gym, led to downloading fitness apps, and virtual get-togethers were organized through video chat apps. In fact, according to studies, at least 90% of the time spent on smartphones during pandemic lockdowns, was spent on apps.
In the post-pandemic era, some of these apps may lose appeal and consequently, demand. And others which collapsed during the pandemic like ridesharing apps, could possibly be revived. Nonetheless, most apps are here to stay.
As marketing expert, Thomas Husson, said, “Mobile is becoming not only the new digital hub, but also the bridge to the physical world.”