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Houseparty Competes With Zoom for Top Video Calling App Spot, Add 50 Million Users in Last Month

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Apps like Zoom and Houseparty have exploded in popularity over the past month as Covid-19 stay-at-home mitigation efforts sweep the globe.

According to a new report from Bloomberg, Houseparty co-founder and CEO Sima Sistani says the app saw 50 million new signups over the past month — a jump of around 70 times its normal usage in some markets.

In Apple’s US App Store, Houseparty has been the most-downloaded app in the social networking category every day since March 20. Over Easter weekend, it was the second-most downloaded app in any category (Zoom took the top spot).

Bloomberg interviewed Sistani, who suggested that the app has become the default choice for fun — rather than serious — video chats:

‘Zoom by day, Houseparty by night,’ Sima Sistani jokes […]

At its core, Houseparty’s free mobile and desktop apps let people video chat with friends or family, similar to Zoom or Apple Inc.’s FaceTime. But Houseparty, which has previously been popular mainly with teens, builds in a slew of other features meant to encourage interaction, including the ability to remotely play games like trivia or ‘Heads Up,’ or to jump into ongoing conversations your friends are already having in the app […]

Since the COVID-19 outbreak started requiring people to stay at home in early March, Sistani says she’s seen the app used for everything from happy hours and fitness sessions to engagements and gender reveals — something she did through the app herself three years ago, before the birth of her daughter. ‘I just think any kind of activity that would usually be in person with your loved ones, people are moving to Houseparty,’ she says.

A likely driving force behind the app’s popularity is the continuing security and privacy concerns around its competitor Zoom. The video conferencing app’s privacy policy makes concerning reading, while the serious risk of “Zoom bombing,” news that data was being sent to China, people’s video calls being leaked online, and Mac and Windows vulnerabilities were all revealed at the start of this month.

Houseparty and other apps like it are riding a massive high right now but the real question is, what’s going to happen to these apps when people go back to work and school.

“Being in person with someone is still better than anything that we can provide,” Sistani said. At the very least, Sistani hopes that Houseparty could “have a role in that new more connected, empathetic future.”

Houseparty is available as a free download for iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

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