While Zoom takes over office spaces, Houseparty is filling the gap over social void

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Participating in friends or family gatherings at home for various events seem to be safe at first, but under the current circumstances, such gatherings have been strongly discouraged or even being banned by many governments around the world for the time being (NorthstarMeetingsGroup). Considering how quickly we are learning more about the novel coronavirus and its method of transmissions, it is getting increasingly clear that the virus can be easily transmitted to a healthy person simply by engaging in face to face conversations or even breathing next to an infected person for even a short period of time (sciencenews).

At the same time, practicing social distancing has its own drawbacks. Lack of social interactions may also take a toll on mental health to certain extent (epha). No matter how much we may indulge ourselves by spending time on the Internet or playing games on smartphones to keep boredom at bay, isolation can propagate loneliness. Nevertheless, people have figured out ways to mitigate the chain of transmission while still being connected with friends and family with numerous video calling apps. However, among them, Houseparty seemed to have made significant appearances on their smartphones.

Throw a virtual House Party

As the name suggests, people in India have chosen to virtually throw a party by inviting their close circle of friends and family on Houseparty app. According to App Ape, Houseparty in India has seen a dramatic increase in monthly active users (MAU) with +4700% rise in the month of March alone from almost non existent usage seen in earlier months.

Data from the below graph shows that active installs and monthly active users trend line trajectories are more or less parallel to each other. Which means that almost all of the app users who have installed the Houseparty app in India are also using it regularly.

And regular usage pattern can be confirmed by looking at average daily user activation count which has also been rising since the beginning of this year.

Differentiating Factors

Aside from being a regular video calling app for groups, there are few unique features that helps Houseparty differentiate itself from the rest and may even be the reason for its strikingly quick rise of user base on this platform in India.

The google play description of the app provides some insight on what to expect before downloading the app. It mentioned that the app connects people effortlessly by alerting the users when their friends are “in the house” and ready to chat. It also notifies the users’ friends when the user opens the app. Moreover, Houseparty will automatically recognize user’s contacts and friends who have already signed up, allowing the user to jump into the chat almost instantly by waving to any one of the participants (Techradar).

GooglePlayStore

Indianexpress stated that this sharp rise in usage may be due to the fact that Houseparty allows up to eight people who can join in the group video chat at once unlike Whatsapp, which only allows four people to be joined at a time. However, the unique feature set does not end there. It also employs several games such as Heads Up, Trivia, Chips and Guac, and Quick Draw at user’s disposal. It makes using the app mildly more interesting, while encouraging the users to spend more time with the people in the app.

Houseparty’s increased usage pattern may be recent, but it is not a new app. Initially, it was launched by Life on Air in 2016, and was later bought by Epic Games in 2019 (Techradar). While there are numerous other free video calling apps such as FaceTime on iOS, WhatsApp as mentioned earlier, Google Duo and Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype etc. Houseparty’s set of above mentioned featured list of games and its ease of use may be enticing enough to attract people to this platform.

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