COVID-19 impact: Smartphone usage spiked during the lockdown, says report

People mostly used their phones for entertainment, gaming, music, and social networking.


KOLKATA: In the wake of the second wave of COVID-19 and lockdown across India, people relied more on their phones to beat boredom. InMobi's Second Wave Lockdown Audience Insights Report says that, mobile phone usage went up as users searched for entertainment, gaming, music, and social networking while staying indoors.

According to the report, 2021's lockdown saw users relying on their smartphones specifically around weekends, compared to weekdays in 2020. Students, working professionals, and mothers were among the most engaged during the second wave lockdown. 

However, the users' app consumption behavior varied for each group. Students relied more on music, gaming, and OTT, compared to working professionals who consumed news, OTT, productivity, social, and shopping, while mothers invested their time on gaming, lifestyle, and education apps.

"We have witnessed a drastic acceleration of the mobile-first consumer economy since the onset of the pandemic. With the second wave, we see that these “new normal” mobile-first consumer habits and preferences have become more mainstream," said InMobi Asia Pacific managing director Vasuta Agarwal.

With states reporting all-time high Covid cases, the report observed that 25-35 years old stayed indoors the highest during the lockdown, mostly due to the limited vaccination opportunities. Interestingly, people in the 35-44 age groups were seen stepping out the highest.

As per the report, hospitals, clinics, and medical stores witnessed a spike of 597 per cent compared to 398 per cent last year. Supermarkets and essential stores saw an 89 per cent spike against 44 per cent last year, as consumers visited local stores to meet their daily needs. While a lot of consumers found cooking as a hobby last year, this year witnessed an increase in footfalls in restaurants from 7 per cent to 23 per cent.

This was a result of relaxed lockdowns where takeaways and deliveries were allowed, helping consumers break the monotony of home-cooked meals by occasionally eating out. The footfall at each of the above places of interest during the lockdowns in 2020 & 2021 was indexed against overall footfalls observed across the above-mentioned places of interest and supermarkets, pharmacies, restaurants, and flea markets.

Despite transport being open to the public in the second lockdown, travel and transport hubs saw an all-time low during the second wave from 9 per cent last year to 4 per cent now. While rail travel had started to pick up until June, the new cases reported in India again forced people to shelter at homes. While footfall at movie theaters was at a decline, visits to lodging reduced further by 15 per cent, mounting on the already low footfalls due to the fear of the pandemic.

“Social distancing, work from home, and lock-down regulations have boosted consumer mobile consumption as people rely on mobile entertainment spanning games, social media, and video streaming. With the second wave hitting us, consumers have adopted to the online world already and are well versed with this,” Agarwal added.

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