With everybody locked inside due to the COVID-19 pandemic, streaming video is the order of the day, with video calls on both Messenger and WhatsApp more than doubling over the past month, and group streaming app Zoom seeing massive growth.
"In the past month, Houseparty has seen 50 million signups, [around] 70 times the app’s typical amount in some markets. The company doesn’t disclose total user numbers, but it has been the most-downloaded social networking app in Apple’s U.S. App Store every day since March 20th - ahead of Facebook Inc.’s trio of Facebook, Messenger and WhatsApp - and it was the second-most downloaded app of any category over Easter weekend behind only Zoom, according to App Annie."
Yes, Houseparty, from the team that brought you Meerkat, and which was purchased by the makers of Fortnite last year, is currently the biggest social media app on the market, at least in terms of active downloads, while Zoom and TikTok also remain near the top of the overall charts.
The app is having a huge resurgence, underlining its use case, which could provide it with a new rush of momentum, and could make it a more relevant consideration in the social space.
Already, Houseparty was generating significant interest among certain user groups. Back in 2016, after its initial launch, Houseparty quickly raced to 20 million users, while it had more than 1.2 million daily actives after just 8 months on the market.
That initial spurt got Zuck and Co.'s attention - keen to avoid letting another Snapchat rise from nothing and eat into its audience, Facebook quickly released Instagram Live in November 2016, while it even launched its own Houseparty clone app called Bonfire to reduce the potential impact.
Bonfire was eventually shuttered last year, and with Houseparty being bought out, it seemed like maybe the app was losing some momentum, and would gradually scale back, only to re-emerge as a video chat element for gamers. But now, Houseparty is coming into its own once again, which could see it become a much more relevant consideration, if it can maintain audience attention beyond the COVID-19 lockdown period.
That's, of course, is a big 'if'. Given the various controversies around Zoom, and its limited utility once people are able to meet face to face again, you would expect to see Zoom's numbers drop back to relatively normal levels after the restrictions are lifted. But Houseparty could be different - Houseparty was already holding significant audience levels before, and likely will after, with the lockdowns only further reinforcing its use case and value.
That makes this a huge period of opportunity for the app - if Houseparty can showcase its connective capacity, and underline its tools and features to a broader audience, that could see the app become a bigger tool, and spark a new wave of interest in the app, which could take it to the next level.
Facebook wasn't spooked by Houseparty's initial growth for no reason. The app hasn't released any official user counts for some time, but if it can build on its momentum, it could well become another challenger in the market, similar to TikTok's alternate use case.
That could eventually make it a bigger consideration for marketing as well. Houseparty already has good reach among younger audience groups, and maybe, if it can build on this, it could provide new opportunities, and become another way to expand reach.
Of all the live-streaming tools seeing increased usage, Houseparty has the most potential to carry its success beyond the lockdowns, and it'll be worth watching to see what the app releases, and how it looks to seize its moment over the coming weeks.