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TikTok owner Bytedance said in July that it has 1.5 billion global monthly active users across its apps, including TikTok’s Chinese version Douyin and popular news app Toutiao. (Picture: Reuters)

China’s TikTok, Kwai and Tencent Video are among the biggest apps of the decade

At 2 years old, TikTok has more app downloads than YouTube and Twitter, according to App Annie

This article originally appeared on ABACUS

Just 10 years ago, few people were watching online videos in the palm of their hands. But now, at the end of the decade, mobile video apps are an indispensable part of modern life for many. And some of the biggest such apps of the decade came from China. 

An App Annie report ranking some of the world’s biggest apps over the last 10 years by downloads and consumer spending shows some obvious and not-so-obvious contenders from China. Here are China’s biggest winners.


TikTok, made by Beijing-based Bytedance, was only launched in 2017. But in just two years, it’s managed to top YouTube and Twitter among the most downloaded apps this decade, according to App Annie. TikTok comes in at 7th place, but App Annie doesn’t show the download numbers. The app still trails behind Facebook’s army of apps, including WhatsApp and Instagram.
TikTok owner Bytedance said in July that it has 1.5 billion global monthly active users across its apps, including TikTok’s Chinese version Douyin and popular news app Toutiao. (Picture: Reuters)

UC Browser

American internet users may not be familiar with UC Browser, but the Chinese-made mobile browser is incredibly popular in Asia. The app’s growth has relied on attracting low-end smartphone users in developing markets thanks to its small app size. In 2017, UC Browser accounted for 51 per cent of India’s mobile browser market and 41 per cent of Indonesia’s mobile browser market, outperforming Google Chrome in both countries, according to the Wall Street Journal

(Abacus is a unit of the South China Morning Post, which is owned by Alibaba, the owner of UC Browser.)

In App Annie’s report, UC Browser ranks as the 8th most-downloaded app of the decade, just above YouTube and Twitter.

Tencent Video and iQiyi 

Once known for a penchant for piracy, Chinese internet users have grown accustomed to paying for digital content. Given the size of China’s market, it might not be too surprising that two of the country’s largest video streaming platforms are among the world’s top 10 apps in terms of consumer spending. Tencent Video came in 4th and Baidu’s iQiyi ranks 6th.

As of September 30, iQiyi has 105 million paying subscribers, according to its latest quarterly results. Tencent’s Q3 report says Tencent Video subscriptions grew 22 per cent year-on-year to 100.2 million.


As TikTok dominates download charts, Kwai is raking in billions from its users. The international version of the popular Chinese short video app Kuaishou ranks 10th in consumer spending for the decade. The app primarily makes money through live streaming by taking a cut of viewers’ tips and gifts to live streamers, which is a popular revenue model in China.

Kuaishou is China’s original short-video king, and it now hosts ‘little shops’ and live streaming

It’s not clear how much of consumer spending on Kwai comes from China. App Annie didn’t responded to a request for more information. But a report from Sensor Tower in August this year said that 99 per cent of Kuaishou’s worldwide revenue in the second quarter came from within China.
Kuaishou is also expanding in game live streaming and boasts 35 million daily active users of its video game live streaming service. (Picture: Reuters)

Chinese games

China’s two gaming giants, Tencent and NetEase, also have apps that are among the decade’s biggest mobile games. Tencent’s Honor of Kings and NetEase’s Fantasy Westward Journey rank 6th and 7th respectively in consumer spending, according to App Annie. 

But no Chinese games are among the most downloaded mobile games of the decade.

For more insights into China tech, sign up for our tech newsletters, subscribe to our award-winning Inside China Tech podcast, and download the comprehensive 2019 China Internet Report. Also roam China Tech City, an award-winning interactive digital map at our sister site Abacus.