On May 20, Alphabet, Inc.’s GOOGL Google and Apple, Inc. AAPL released the initial version of their COVID-19 contact-tracing app. The companies said that authorities of 23 countries across five continents have sought access to their contact-tracing technology.
The technology has been designed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus by tracking who a person has been in close contact with. Tech players, particularly the FAANG companies, have been playing a major role in fighting the coronavirus. While most industries have taken a beating due to the pandemic, tech players have been one of the few to have not only survived the pandemic but also put up a great show.
Google, Apple Show the Way
Apple and Google on May 20 made available the first public version of their exposure notification API, which originally debuted as a joint contact-tracing software tool. The technology uses a Bluetooth-based system to store data on people’s phones and not a central database. If a person tests positive for COVID-19, the system can send notification to anyone who was recently near that person and alerts them to contact the local authority to get medical advice and a coronavirus test.
Apple and Google will not be making the actual contact-tracing app but only share their technology. The apps will be developed by the respective governments and health bodies that have requested for the technology. Notably, the technology has been included in iPhone and Android updates released to the public on May 20. Shares of Apple and Google have gained 15.3% and 11.7%, respectively, over the past 30 days. Apple carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy), while Google carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
FAANG Companies Fight COVID-19
Lately, federal regulators have been scrutinizing how the likes of Facebook, Inc. FB Google, Twitter, Inc. TWTR and others handle personal information amid rapidly increasing incidences of user data breach. Twitter has a Zacks Rank #3. Its shares have surged 19.3% over the past one month.
The COVID-19 outbreak has given tech companies an opportunity to rebuild their image. At the same time, an increasing number of people are relying on online purchases, with stay-at-home orders in place. This has seen a rise in e-commerce sales, growth in demand for video and online games, and a surge in users of streaming services.
On May 19, Facebook rolled out Facebook Shops, a feature allows businesses to set up product listings on their Facebook Page, Instagram profile, Stories or in ads. Users can browse and buy products directly from a business’ Facebook page or Instagram profile. Facebook carries a Zacks Rank #3. Its shares have gained 29% in the past 30 days.
Netflix, Inc. NFLX has been one of the biggest winners during the pandemic. Last month, the streaming giant said that it added 15.8 million subscribers in the first quarter, taking its global total to 182.9 million. The company had predicted that it would add around 7 million customers during the period. Netflix said that it users grew only in mid-March when stay-at-home restrictions were well in place. Shares of Netflix, which has a Zacks Rank #2, have increased 2.3% in the last one month.
Similarly, Amazon.com, Inc. AMZN too has been making the most of the opportunity. So much so, that the e-commerce giant had to go on a hiring spree. Last month, Amazon said that it will be hiring 75,000 more heads, ranging from warehouse staff to delivery drivers to ramp up delivery services and meet the growing demand for online orders. Amazon has a Zacks Rank #3. The company’s shares have gained 4.4% in the past one month.
The coronavirus outbreak has also given tech companies a chance to rebuild their image by fighting fake news. Last month, Facebook launched a service in Italy in collaboration with Facta that will allow users to verify the authenticity of any information related to the novel coronavirus.
Also, Google in April announced that it would pump in $6.5 million into fact-checkers and nonprofits to ramp up its fight against coronavirus-related misinformation. Twitter too has been fighting fake news related to COVID-19. The micro-blogging site has removed more than 1,100 misleading and potentially damaging tweets since March after it announced a new guidance that bars content which could prove to be harmful.
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