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A woman speaks on her phone near the logo for Douyin in Beijing. Photo: AP

TikTok tops 3 billion downloads worldwide, the first non-Facebook app to do so

  • The short video app was also the most downloaded and highest-grossing in the first half of this year
  • Although installs were down in the first six months year on year, user spending soared by 73 per cent
TikTok, and its Chinese sister app Douyin, has become the fifth non-game app to surpass 3 billion global installs across app stores, a tier that used to be the exclusive domain of Facebook, despite growing competition and increasing global tensions, according to app tracking firm Sensor Tower.

 The four other apps are WhatsApp, Messenger, Facebook, and Instagram, all owned by the Silicon Valley-based social networking company.

The short video app, developed by Beijing-based ByteDance, has amassed more than US$2.5 billion in consumer spending worldwide since its launch in 2016. Only four other non-game apps have managed to reach the same level: Tinder, Netflix, YouTube and Tencent Video.

TikTok was also the most downloaded and highest-grossing non-game app worldwide in the first half of 2021, reaching nearly 383 million first-time installs and about US$919.2 million in consumer spending.

Is ByteDance poised to eat everyone’s lunch in China’s internet world?

Although installs in the first six months were down 38 per cent compared to the same period last year, user spending in the app grew 73 per cent.
Continued growth comes despite the fact that in India, one of the app’s biggest markets in terms of users, the app remains unavailable after it was banned on national security grounds last year.
In the US, President Joe Biden ordered the country’s Commerce Department to conduct security reviews of any apps associated with foreign adversaries.

This came in June after his predecessor, former president Donald Trump, tried to ban Chinese apps from the US market in the final month of his term.

Beyond regulatory pressure and geopolitical tension, TikTok also faces increasing competition from other platforms as they try to capitalise on the latest content format.

On Tuesday, Google’s YouTube announced that it will roll its short video feature, YouTube Shorts, to more than 100 countries after it was available at launch to only 26.

Google, in its first-quarter report this year, revealed that Shorts averaged 6.5 billion daily views.


In August of last year, Facebook added a section dedicated to short videos while its photo-sharing app, Instagram, launched Reels that same month.

WeChat, the Chinese super app operated by tech giant Tencent Holdings, launched WeChat Channels in January, allowing users to share short videos.


Global expansion of TikTok and other Chinese tech companies is likely, only not in the West

Global expansion of TikTok and other Chinese tech companies is likely, only not in the West

Other short video apps, including China’s Kwai and India’s Moj, continue to challenge TikTok’s dominance in the short video market.

Kuaishou Technology, the Chinese company which operates Kwai, said last month that the total monthly active users spread across its several short video platforms surpassed 1 billion monthly active users
In contrast, ByteDance, which operates content aggregation apps in addition its short video offerings, reached that milestone in 2019.