TikTok Is The Most Downloaded App Worldwide, And India Is Leading The Charge

TikTok’s popularity is skyrocketing worldwide, and nowhere is that more evident than in India.

Since January 2019, TikTok has been installed more than 104.7 million times, which is an increase of 46% in the span of a year, making it the most downloaded non-gaming app worldwide, according to Sensor Tower, a mobile app store data analytics firm. India is responsible for a third of all downloads of the Chinese-owned short-form video app, followed closely by Brazil at 10.4%.

TikTok is the only app that’s not owned by Facebook to grace the top five downloads in the rankings. WhatsApp, which recently revealed hitting a 2 billion user milestone, followed TikTok with 90.6 million installs. Again, the countries with the largest number of installs were India, at 35.3%, and Brazil, at 9.4%.

India is a mobile-first country, which means that most Indians connect to the digital world through mobile technologies like smartphones. An entire generation that spans across all demographics has not used a desktop or a laptop to get on the internet. Smartphones are more than just a means of communication for Indians. They provide an opportunity to overcome geographic barriers and socio-economic status and to create new economic opportunities

There are currently over 560 million internet users in the country, making India the second largest online market in the world after China. By 2021, there will be over 600 million internet users, nearly 470 million of them connecting via mobile phone. The popularity of connecting to the internet through smartphones is largely due to the cost of data services falling by 95% since 2013.

India saw 19 billion app downloads in 2019, which is up 195% from 2016, compared to worldwide growth of 45%, according to AppAnnie’s State of Mobile 2020 report. TikTok was India’s breakout app in terms of year over year growth. Collectively, Indians spent 750 million hours on the app that many are lauding for combining the connectivity of social media with the entertainment of video streaming.

TikTok began as a platform to create and share short lip-sync videos, and that is still at the core of a lot of TikTok content today. It makes sense that the app has been thriving in India, where lip-syncing is something of a national trend. India’s entertainment industry is dominated by Bollywood movies that are well known for including song and dance. “[TikTok] offers Indians an inexpensive platform to showcase their singing, dancing, and acting talents to a wider audience, which goes beyond family members and friends,” writes Priyali Prakash in Quartz. “Available in Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Malayalam, and Punjabi, the beauty of the app lies in the fact that anyone with a basic smartphone and an internet connection can make a short music video of their own.”

According to a report by Zinnov, a Bengaluru-based management and strategy consulting firm, Indians prefer watching video over text-based content, and of those videos, short ones are preferable. Extra points if they’re under two minutes. TikTok videos can be no longer than 15 seconds.

Whether in emerging markets like India or mature markets like the United States, the growth of TikTok is something to look out for, not in the least because of the app’s recent status as one of the top platforms for advertising ROI, right up there with Google and Facebook. From May to November last year, ad spend increased 75X, according to Singular’s 2020 ROI Index. In 2020, mobile ad spend is projected to reach $240 billion. 

Marketers are going to have to rethink mobile advertising strategy if they plan to utilize TikTok as a platform. “On Instagram, it’s a lot of buy this, buy that, use my promo code,” said TikTok influencer Alejandro Bogliari. “But on TikTok, it’s about being funny and entertaining. You put the product inside a video and do a soft sell.”

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