(Yicai Global) Feb. 10 -- An office app has surpassed social messaging apps in popularity on Apple's App Store for the first time amid a spike in demand for online office software in China as companies tell employees to work remotely due to the novel coronavirus epidemic.
Downloads of DingTalk, an enterprise communication and collaboration platform developed by e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding, has outnumbered those of China's most popular instant messenger WeChat, run by rival tech giant Tencent Holdings.
Online office software, which used to be an auxiliary work tool, has become a necessity for those working remotely. DingTalk has been quick to release free solutions for workers staying home including video conferencing, group streaming, task coordination and remote sign-ins. It even offers a beauty touch-up feature for those who do not have time to dress up before making a video call.
The Hangzhou-based platform is also assisting some schools with online classes. Around 12 million students from 20,000 schools across 20 provinces have embraced distance learning due to the virus outbreak, according to several reports.
DingTalk has set up a special 24-hour team to ensure the platform's stability as the number of users climbs to some 200 million, the Daily Economic News reported on Feb. 5, citing Chief Technology Officer Yi Su. It is a huge challenge for the company, Yi added.
Other tech firms are also stepping up their services to enable and boost remote worker productivity during the epidemic. WeChat's business communication and office collaboration tool Work now allows up to 300 people to join video calls, the Shenzhen-based firm said.
Bytedance's enterprise messaging and productivity app Feishu, Tencent's free Document tool that allows users to write, edit and collaborate wherever they are, Huawei Cloud's teamwork platform Welink and Kingsoft's WPS office software suite will all provide their collaborative online work services for free during this difficult period, the companies have said.
China's remote office workforce was worth CNY6 billion (USD858.4 million) in 2017, a year-on-year increase of 68 percent. Between 2012 and 2017, the market grew at an average annual compound growth rate of 95.52 percent, according to a recent survey.
Editor: Kim Taylor