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This Sept. 28, 2020 file photo shows a view of the TikTok app logo. Photo: AP

TikTok and Chinese version Douyin claim No 1 spot in downloads and gross revenues for February

  • TikTok/Douyin overtook Telegram to become the world’s most downloaded app in February, with over 56 million installs
  • The Chinese owned video platform was also the highest earning app worldwide in the same month, with user spending reaching over US$110 million

Short video app TikTok and its mainland Chinese version Douyin became the world’s most downloaded non-gaming app in February, and remained the top-grossing app worldwide for the eleventh consecutive month, according to mobile app data analysis firm Sensor Tower.

The viral short video hit owned by Beijing-based ByteDance had over 56 million downloads worldwide last month, according to Sensor Tower. Overall, Chinese users accounted for the biggest share of new downloads among all countries in February, accounting for 18 per cent, with most of that from Douyin. The US was the second-largest country by the number of downloads last month, with an 11 per cent share.

Facebook was the second-most downloaded non-gaming app in February, with over 45 million downloads worldwide, followed by Instagram and WhatsApp. All three of these US apps, owned by Facebook, are banned in China.

In January, secure messaging app Telegram ranked top in overall non-gaming downloads, with TikTok and Douyin combined ranking second. Signal, another secure messaging app, shot up to the No 3 non-gaming spot overall in January, while WhatsApp fell from No 3 in December 2020 to the fifth spot in January. The popularity of Telegram and Signal over WhatsApp was attributed to a controversial new data privacy policy that had WhatsApp users concerned that their messages could be shared with parent company Facebook.

The ByteDance video platform was also the top-grossing app worldwide in February with more than US$110 million in user spending, 1.9 times its revenue from a month earlier, according to a separate Sensor Tower report issued last week. Nearly 79 per cent of the app’s revenue came from Douyin users in China, followed by the US with 8 per cent of revenue and Turkey at 3 per cent.

ByteDance agrees to US$92 million privacy settlement with US TikTok users

The Chinese app has been the world’s top-grossing non-gaming app for eleven consecutive months, after overtaking dating app Tinder in April 2020. In February, YouTube was the second-highest-earning non-gaming app worldwide with over US$82 million in overall revenue.

TikTok, which quickly gained a large following of worldwide users since being launched in 2016, found itself in the middle of an escalating US-China tech war and rising geopolitical tensions last year.

Last June, India’s government banned TikTok along with dozens of other Chinese apps after a deadly border clash with China. The Trump Administration deemed TikTok a national security threat and ordered ByteDance to divest its US operations to continue doing business in the country. TikTok denied the charges but agreed to work with Oracle to maintain its US operations.

Then in February, The Wall Street Journal reported that ByteDance had shelved the deal with Oracle “indefinitely” as the Biden administration undertakes a broad review of former President Donald Trump’s actions against Chinese tech companies.
ByteDance is also considering a US listing of TikTok’s mainland Chinese version Douyin, sources told the South China Morning Post.