India ban hits TikTok download numbers hard globally

Bengaluru: Chinese short-video app TikTok remained the most downloaded app worldwide in September, beating Zoom, Facebook, and WhatsApp, three months after India, its largest market, banned the platform for allegedly being a security threat.However, the growth in downloads slowed to a measly 2% in September over the same month last year, according to the data shared by app analytics firm Sensor Tower. Before the ban, TikTok downloads in the first six months of the year grew 85% from the year-ago period.Other social media and messaging apps on the top-10 list were Instagram, Telegram, Snack Video and Snapchat. The rankings by Sensor Tower of the most downloaded apps worldwide excluded gaming apps.“The hit is because of India. If there was no ban in India, TikTok would have continued on the same trajectory. In terms of downloads, it is at the risk of losing momentum globally,” said Karthik Srinivasan, an independent communications consultant and a former national lead, social, at ad agency Ogilvy. “However, it is important to note that the hit is only in terms of download numbers, from a revenue point of view, India was not meaningful for TikTok.”There were 659.5 million downloads of TikTok in India until the ban was imposed, accounting for 30% of its global downloads. Even while TikTok had continued to battle regulatory scrutiny over data storage and sharing practices, content moderation policies, and its impact on children, the app only grew in popularity in India over the last two years. It quickly overtook popular platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp in the number of downloads in India.Soon after TikTok was banned, over a dozen clones sprang up to fill the market void left by the app. The same has happened in the US as well where rivals are hoping to gain from regulatory concerns around TikTok’s privacy and data sharing settings.“The reality is TikTok’s competitors still lag it in terms of growth and users. The network effects of TikTok are powerful and are difficult to undo very quickly. TikTok’s competitors still lag it in terms of growth and users,” said Anand Sanwal, the chief executive of CB Insights, a data research platform. “Obviously, the regulatory challenges TikTok faces in the USA, India and elsewhere represent a large unknown and distraction.”
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