April 20, 2020
Launched April 6 with much fanfare and $1.75 billion in investment backing, mobile-centric video streaming platform Quibi generated 1.7 million app downloads during its first week, ranking sixth on Google Play through April 9 and 20th among free apps on Apple’s App Store.
That excitement appears to be slowing as the $4.99 monthly service ($7.99 without ads) from DreamWorks Animation founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and former Hewlett Packard and eBay CEO Meg Whitman now ranks 57th on the App Store, while dropping five spots to 20th on Google Play — behind notable rivals Netflix and Disney+.
Not surprisingly, the No. 1 app on Google Play is the Zoom video conferencing platform increasingly used by companies to interact with employees and staff during social distancing and shelter-in-place guidelines due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Quibi, which is short for “quick bites,” offers original movies and TV shows in eight-to-10-minute snippets on a mobile device from ‘A’-list directors such as Steven Spielberg, Antoine Fuqua and Guillermo del Toro.
At the same time, condensed video content for mobile consumers appears to have lost its targeted audience as intended users working from home watch TV — the latter distribution channel unavailable to Quibi content.
“Quibi marketed itself as a companion for [entertainment gaps] people have throughout a normal day — perhaps on a commute or waiting in line for lunch,” Danyaal Rashid, analyst at GlobalData, wrote in a note. “However, amid a pandemic and global lockdown, things are far from normal and people are just not experiencing these ‘moments.'”
Rashid said people at home are less likely to watch videos on their phones rather than on a full-size TV. In addition, the analyst said Quibi offers no option to add multiple profiles, which means the app is exclusively to only one user — making its subscription price seem more expensive than the competition.
“Quibi’s main competitor is social media, rather than other streaming apps,” he wrote. “Again, timing seems to be Quibi’s downfall here. People are using this lockdown to capitalize on the creativity and connection they can glean from social media apps, while Quibi offers only curated content.”
Indeed, Rashid said TikTok, the Chinese-owned social media app for making and sharing short videos, is adding staff due to the surge in demand due to the pandemic.
“[Meanwhile], Quibi is left scrabbling for a foothold,” he wrote.
The situation is not dissimilar to Go90, Verizon’s short-lived $1 billion mobile entertainment app that shuttered about a year after launching in 2015 with original content from Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and the late Kobe Bryant’s Oscar-winning animated short film Dear Basketball, among others.