The global economy is paralyzed by the coronavirus, the recession threat and the advertising revenues are dried up, but the giants of the technology, Amazon, Google and Facebook in head, beats records of use promise for their future.
From Tuesday to Thursday, as Apple and Microsoft, they will publish their financial results for the first three months of the year, marked by the shift of the planet in the pandemic and the economic crisis.
But on the applications of the social network dominant, it is christmas eve every day for a month: the level of calls made through WhatsApp and Messenger has doubled, and the daily one of the celebrations of the new year, typically the peak annual.
The number of video calls made through “Teams”, the videoconferencing solution from Microsoft, has jumped 1,000 per cent in march.
While unemployment explodes, Amazon recruits for all arms — 175 000 additional jobs in the United States — to cope with the influx of online orders since the implementation of the social distancing.
Google and Apple, for their part, released new products, physical or digital, and offer to make it even more indispensable with new tools for monitoring human contacts (“contact tracing” to combat the novel coronavirus.
The more reluctant to trade online have passed their first order on Amazon. Senior citizens are playing video games. The “anti” social networks have no other choice to keep in touch with their friends.
Children imitate their parents, each on its own screen for a home office. Families are réabonnées to Netflix.
But all is not rosy in the GAFA. Advertising, sinews of war for Google and Facebook, is one of the first budgets reduced by the companies in difficulty.
The digital society must ensure a service become critical, with limited means. Their employees to work from their garage, their living room, or, worse, in a warehouse that are difficult to protect them from the virus.
The production of electronic devices (such as smartphones) and content platforms for streaming (series, video games) to take a delay.
One by one, the groups withdrew or lowered their forecasts for 2020.
“The first quarter figures will not reflect what is really happening,” observes Bob O’donnell from Technalysis Research. “The problems only started in march. The real subject, this will be the demand in the second quarter”.
A sign that even the good numbers are more exult, Netflix announced this week record of new subscribers with a caution infinite, with the emphasis on the uncertainty that weighs on the rest of the year.
The winners of the containment do not want to give the impression to take advantage of the health crisis.
And above all, difficult to know what habits will be taken for good, and what uses will disappear in an “after” distant and vague.
“For the moment, these platforms, such as Zoom, make it a service. But when we can go to dinner with his friends, there will be more aperitifs video. And this will not be free,” points out Carolina Milanesi, of Creative Strategies.
So far, nobody worries for the future of the heavyweights of the tech.
“A whole industry of advertising is going to suffer, but they have enough reserves to resist,” says David Sidebottom, an analyst at Futuresource.
Crisis or no crisis, they are ironed into attack mode.
Apple Music is party to the conquest of 52 new countries with 6 months available to new subscribers. Google has made Stadia, its a video games service on the cloud, free for 2 months.
Facebook this week launched an app that has streaming video games, in direct competition with Twitch (Amazon) and Mix (Microsoft), and a new interface for video calls, Messenger Rooms, which allows you to “jump in”, virtually, in the living room of his friends – enough to rival Zoom.
The groups compete also in terms of social responsibilities, communicating on the protection of their employees, their efforts to counter the misinformation related to the Covid-19, or their donations to charitable organizations.
Google and Apple, whose operating systems are the most used smartphones in the world, going so far as to propose an unprecedented alliance to be able to follow numerically the individuals who have been in the vicinity of the contaminated people.
“This is fascinating. They can have a decisive impact on the entire planet,” commented Bob O’donnell. “This shows their power and influence: no government can touch as many people at once.”