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How Zoom Became One of Kenya’s Most Downloaded Mobile Apps In Under Two Weeks

It has been more or less 2 weeks since the most drastic changes in our lives happened in Kenya and the world due to the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic. The most significant changes here have been the closure of schools and offices as the majority of people are now staying at home and limiting their movements. We are also in the early days of a 15-day quarantine in Kenya which means we are meant to be in our homes from 7.00 pm till 5.00 am on a daily basis. We have all essentially become modern-day hermits, thanks to the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

However, in the middle of all that is happening, we have learned that we can still communicate and engage with the world from our homes and still be somewhat productive? It’s not easy to work from home every day of the week if you have been conditioned to going to an office to work, rather than work being something you can do wherever you are. Thanks to the Internet and modern technologies, we are now video conferencing every day for school, for work, for family, and for friends. This has become the ‘new normal’ for us in Kenya and the rest of the world, and at the heart of this new trend seems to be Zoom.

I personally have been on Zoom for probably two years? I am not sure when exactly when I picked it up but at some point, I started realizing that more people wanted to do business conference calls on Zoom rather than Skype or any other software that serves a similar purpose. One thing that stands out about Zoom is that it’s much easier to set-up a conference call with anyone even if they don’t have the requisite software in place. You simply send the link, they click on it, install the app and voila! Your up and running. Easy. Peasy.

It seems to be the fact that Zoom is so frictionless to adopt, and has a very user-friendly experience that has made it the go-to video conferencing platform for the global coronavirus era for all sorts of use cases – from helping schools run classes for students, major conferences, families having virtual birthday parties and couples having virtual dates. So much so that Zoom’s market valuation just clocked US$ 40B as of this past week, and rising. Those are mind-boggling numbers and someone, somewhere, is coining it!

In order to get a sense of how fast Zoom has been adopted in Kenya during the past couple of weeks, I was able to compile a table as below showing how it got to the top-3 mobile app on Google Play’s free apps rankings:

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In the first week, Zoom is nowhere within the top-10 mobile apps on Google Play till Saturday the 21st March 2020 when it checks-in at the 10th position. Then, one day later on Saturday the 22nd March 2020 it rose to the 8th position. It then hovers between the 7th and 8th position from Monday the 23rd March 2020 till Friday the 27th March 2020. Then, on Saturday the 28th March 2020, Zoom punches up to the 3rd position and stays there as of today Sunday the 29th March 2020.

What is interesting to note is that I am not aware of Zoom running any mobile app advertising campaigns to drive up downloads so it’s safe to assume that Zoom’s mobile app uptake has grown organically the last two weeks. At the same time, Kenya being a mobile-first market when it comes to technology platforms, we must assume that the majority of users here are using Zoom via the mobile app and not on the desktop, which would explain how fast it ascended.

Going forward, what remains to be seen is if Zoom could go all the way to the 1st position on Google Play in Kenya within the next two weeks? Given how much momentum it has at the minute, it’s entirely possible. However, WhatsApp Messenger, which has been in 1st position for the entire two week period that Zoom has gone ballistic in Kenya is immensely popular. Given that we are all hooked to the Internet via our mobile devices during the current coronavirus-enabled modus operandi, WhatsApp Messenger is without a doubt the preferred communications mobile app for all, Cucus and Gukas (grandmothers and grandfathers) included.

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