The coronavirus pandemic is accelerating the behaviors we had already been dabbling with, such as cord-cutting, streaming videos, and working from home. As other options of distraction have dwindled, we are starting to see the full impact of those trends. The pandemic-induced lockdown has also had an impact on everything from the sale of phones to flu outbreaks. Here are some data bits to highlight the ongoing pandemic’s impact on our society.
- Global sales of smartphones fell 20 percent during the first quarter of 2020. Though much of the fall was because of Chinese lockdowns, don’t be surprised to see further declines, because the rest of the world lagged in taking preventive measures. Huawei took the worst hit, and they might take a few more hits. Apple seems to be faring well. [Gartner]
- Given how tight things are at present, most of the planet may become increasingly fiscally conservative — and that isn’t good for demand. Everything we need to acquire (apart from food and other essentials) is going to need considerable deliberation. IBS, a research firm, forecasts that the semiconductor industry will decline by 11.7% in 2020 compared to 2019. As I have always said, chips are tea leaves of the future.
- Do you really need the latest and the greatest? With just a TV, an iPad, or a computer, you can do just about everything you need to during the lockdown, like stream videos and news. YouTube might be thought of as a laptop/mobile video service, but a report in The Wall Street Journal noted that over 100 million people in the U.S. consume YouTube on their television screen. That viewing time was up 80% year-over-year in March. [WSJ]
- At the end of March, the average US home used 402.5 gigabytes of data, up 17% from the 344.0 gigabytes at the end of 2019, and up 47% from the 273.5 gigabytes in March 2019. Working from home? [POTs and PANs]
- A recent poll found that 53% of adults ages 18 and above spend more time watching TV per day. “Reported increases in TV viewing since the coronavirus pandemic began are consistent across demographic categories,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, Inc. “Usage growth has played a role in boosting consumers’ positive perceptions of their streaming video, pay-TV, and broadband services.”
- Not everyone was watching YouTube. Verizon says that, by the middle of May 2020, gaming was up 82% compared to pre-pandemic levels. VPN connections were up 72%, and the use of collaborative tools was up by a factor of ten.
- I guess we needed distractions in a pandemic. Robinhood, Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade, and Etrade all saw new accounts grow as much as 170% during the first quarter. [Ben Carlson]
- In case there was any doubt about humans causing of pollution, new data shows how much impact we have made by doing nothing. A Nature Climate Change study by scientists from the University of East Anglia and Stanford University concluded that daily global CO₂ emissions in early April 2020 were down 17% versus the mean level of emissions in 2019. International Energy Agency (IEA) also had similar conclusions. CO₂ emissions in the first three months of 2020 were 5% lower from Q1 2019. [The National Interest]
- On the upside, the pandemic stopped a lot of people from getting the flu. So there’s that. [Nature]