The app of the year 2020 would undoubtedly be TikTok. With over 1.5 billion downloads across the globe; it would be an understatement to say that the user base of TikTok is very large. With over 466 million downloads in India, 123 million downloads in the USA and 173 million in China; there is no other app that can quite compete with this one.
TikTok was created in 2016, by a Chinese company ByteDance as a competitor to the US based Musical.ly app. Both these platforms provided entertainment in the form of short videos and were remarkably popular among the younger age demographic. While TikTok saw a 100 million downloads within a year of its release, Musical.ly started slowing down and was eventually bought by ByteDance for $800 million. The users of both the apps were then merged and focused under the single brand name TikTok.
Reasons for popularity
TikTok caters to all genres of entertainment: music, humor, crafts, fitness, skincare, make-up, dance and so much more. It provides an endless stream of variety and has seen huge celebrities downloading the app as well. Hollywood actor Will Smith amassed a following of 5 million people within a week of joining.
India and USA’s concerns
The massive downloads and usage of the app has raised several concerns. Both India and USA had one of the largest user base in the application and both the nations decided to curb it citing security reasons. India’s decision to ban TikTok came on June 29th, 2020 after the Narendra Modi government banned 59 Chinese applications. The BJP government also wanted to take forth the Make In India scheme to help Indian app developers prosper. The ban by the US government started on November 12th, 2020 citing security reasons. Both the nations fear that TikTok who’s parent company is based in China could be siphoning off information about their citizens.
Competitors following ban
While the app is banned, several other competitors are already blooming in place. India based Mitron app has seen over 1.2 crore downloads and is hopeful to gain momentum. Chingari is another competitor who is eyeing TikTok’s loss as their own gain. The application gained 10lakh views on videos every thirty minutes after the ban was imposed. Gurgaon based start-up Bolo Indya follows the same format and is hopeful about their growth as well. All these companies are home grown and the data they collect is not piped to some other nation.
US ban and implications
The USA is however now grappling with a different problem. The application that has seen massive installations after TikTok was banned is another Chinese app named Likee. This also has the parent company in China and could potentially be outsourcing their information as well. The other US based applications include Triller, Dubsmash and Byte; none of which are faring as well as Likee is.
TikTok’s possible return to India
TikTok India head Nikhil Gandhi remains hopeful about the app’s future in the country and stated that he saw “an immense growth opportunity”. PUBG has also announced its comeback in India and talked about new security arrangements. PUBG it is owned by a Korean company, Krafton. For now, the ByteDance-owned app is committed to complying with local lawsand meeting the requirements for data privacy and security.
TikTok’s stance in USA
In the US however, TikTok seems to be immersed in a different kind of limbo. There have been deals ongoing with American companies like the Walmart Oracle deal, Microsoft and others; none of which have seen fruition. The Trump government had insisted on TikTok being sold to a completely American company however it hasn’t yet been finalized. With the election of the Democratic candidate Joe Biden as the President, ByteDance is hopeful about making a return to the US market soon. With new security reinforcements in place but without selling its share to America.