TikTok, tick tock — time is ticking for Facebook in China and India

TikTok, tick tock — time is ticking for Facebook in China and India
TikTok, the Chinese video sharing social networking mobile app, is quickly gaining on Facebook as the next-gen social networking platformBusiness Insider India

  • The Chinese video sharing social network, TikTok, surpassed Facebook with 188 million downloads during the first quarter of 2019.
  • It's already a dominant social network in China where Facebook is banned. It is growing in the second-largest market in the world, India.
  • TikTok recently opened its doors to advertisers; and brands like Pepsi and Myntra are lining up.
  • The niche video-sharing app might be the next big thing after Facebook to finally transform the social networking space after years.
Silicon Valley giant Facebook, considers itself a leader in the social networking space. But its monopoly might soon end. Chinese startup TikTok is fast on its heels, gaining more users by the day.

TikTok downloads reportedly surpassed Facebook in the first quarter of 2019 despite being banned in India's Google Play store and the App Store for 20 days. During the ban, Indian courts had debated over whether or not the video sharing platform was 'encouraging pornography'. Finally, this ban was lifted in April.

TikTok scored 188 million downloads as Facebook lagged behind in the second place, with 176 million downloads worldwide, according to Sensor Tower. Interestingly, India accounted for 47% of TikTok's downloads; while contributing less than half of this percentage, at 21%, to Facebook downloads.
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In Apple's App Store, TikTok beat out Facebook, YouTube and even WhatsApp to be the most downloaded app for the fifth consecutive quarter with over 33 million installs.

TikTok's already replaced Facebook as 'the' social media network in China, where Facebook is banned.

In India, TikTok's success has been quick since it launched in 2017. Within two years, it has snagged 200 million monthly active users, according to Statista. And, it is rushing to take over Facebook's number, at 300 million.

Lasso fails to catch up

Facebook tried to take on TikTok's popularity with its own short video sharing app, Lasso. But, so far, its failed to have the same kind of impact.

The key difference between them both is that while Facebook has its fingers in every pie, TikTok is working on making its one pie, the best that it could be.

It is crucial for Facebook to retain dominance in India. The country holds high prospects in the sense of having strong GDP growth and being the second-largest population in the world. Facebook is blocked in China, therefore India is its next best bet for acquiring large amounts of new users.

Sanders Tran, a data analyst at Sensor Tower

Finding its niche

There is one thing that could keep TikTok from being all that it can be. Ironically, it is also the same feature that makes it so appealing to first-time internet users — the fact that it's a niche video sharing platform.

Shekhar Sharma, Vice-President of GroupM, analysed, "Since it's limited to a niche category of short-form video, it's a distant threat to Facebook for now."

For advertisers, Facebook's still the best choice with the largest audience. But, that equation too could change in the near future with TikTok recently opening its doors to advertisers in India. Pepsi, Snapdeal, Myntra and others are reportedly lining up to showcase their brands on the network.

The growing popularity of TikTok may not be an immediate threat but it's something that Facebook needs to keep an eye on. Just like Orkut replaced High5, MySpace replaced Orkut and, finally, Facebook replaced MySpace — this may be the next generation's changing of the guard.

See also:

TikTok ban lifted in India but it has lost at least 2 million users

TikTok makes a triumphant return to Indian app stores a week after the ban was lifted

An Indian court has banned TikTok for 'encouraging pornography'