TikTok made more money than any other app in July despite losing its largest overseas market

TikTok continued to be the highest grossing app across the Google Play Store and Apple's App Store despite being banned in its largest overseas marketBI India

  • The Chinese short video streaming app TikTok was banned in India in June — the app’s largest international market.
  • Despite losing over 200 million of its users, TikTok continues to be the highest-grossing app worldwide, according to Sensor Tower’s monthly report.
  • This is partly due to more people using apps during the coronavirus pandemic and also because 89% of the app’s revenue comes from China.
Despite losing its biggest overseas market, the Chinese short video sharing app TikTok continues to be the top-grossing non-game app in the world in July. Sensor Tower’s monthly report shows that TikTok hit $102.5 million in revenue — an 8.6 times increase in revenue over the same time last year.

TikTok's revenue over the last five monthsSensor Tower/BI India

Even compared to a month ago, TikTok’s revenue has increased by $11.8 million.


This was the first month of TikTok operating without its Indian user base since the government banned the app locally amidst border tensions with China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Before the ban, the Chinese app had around 200 million users in India.

Despite India accounting for nearly one-third of TikTok’s downloads, more than even China, the ban did not dent the app’s online earnings. This may be because nearly 89% of the company’s revenue still comes from its home base in China. Indians can be a boost to any app’s user base but historically they haven’t known to be the biggest spenders.

Another factor that may have surged TikTok's revenue is the overall online app market seeing a boost due to the coronavirus pandemic as more people stay at home. In the first half of 2020, Sensor Tower recorded a 23% jump in global app revenue as compared to last year — crossing $50 billion. TikTok was third on the list, following Tinder and YouTube, having generated $421 million across the Google Play Store and App Store.


One app’s loss in another app’s gain
After TikTok was banned in India, a slew of TikTok alternatives raced to the frontier in order to take its place.

First time installs for TikTok alternatives in IndiaSensor Tower/BI India

Sensor Tower’s estimates reveal that the top three contenders are Roposo, Zili and Dubsmash. They collectively saw a 155% jump in first-time installs in the three weeks following TikTok’s ban.

Lifetime downloads of TikTok alternatives in India at the end of JulySensor Tower/BI India


This is not the first time that TikTok’s run into trouble with the law in India. Last year, it was also banned by the Madras High Court after being accused of ‘ encouraging pornography’. At the time, the company’s court filing said that it was losing $500,000 a day.

TikTok may also be on the brink of losing another one of its international markets. US President Donald Trump declared that the Chinese app will be banned if it’s not sold off to an American buyer by September 15.

Trump wants the Treasury to get a substantial cut of any TikTok acquisition. China's state media says that would be 'open robbery.'


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