- Social video app TikTok maintained its spot as the most downloaded app in Apple’s App Store for the fifth straight quarter, per app analytics firm Sensor Tower.The app was downloaded 33 million times in Q1, ahead of Google's YouTube and Facebook's Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger among the top five.
- TikTok also had the No. 3 spot in Google Play, an app store for Android smartphones, behind WhatsApp and Messenger, but ahead of Facebook and Instagram. WhatsApp was installed about 199 million times during Q1 on Android phones.
- YouTube Kids, the video-sharing app that Google created as a safe space for younger audiences, was one of the biggest gainers during the quarter with 29 million downloads, a 291% jump from the prior quarter.
TikTok, which is owned by Chinese tech giant ByteDance, stands as one of the few social media apps to amass a following that rivals those for Facebook and Google’s apps. The social video app has managed to grow despite restricting downloads for kids under 13 as part of a settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for allegedly violating children’s privacy. TikTok agreed to pay a $5.7 million fine to settle the charges, which is a paltry sum for a company that likely reached more than 1 billion downloads in February, per a separate Sensor Tower report. TikTok also is available in China, but those download figures don't appear in Sensor Tower's data.
Despite its popularity, TikTok hasn't grown much of an advertising business, at least according to available estimates that show Google, Facebook and Amazon as the top the platforms in the U.S. digital ad market. The app monetizes its user-generated videos from other sources such as sales of virtual currency. TikTok boosted sales of its digital coins by about 243% to $5.5 million in February from a year earlier, Sensor Tower estimated. People use the in-app currency to reward their favorite video creators, who can exchange the coins for digital gifts.
However, the app's advertising approach is beginning to change. TikTok this year began testing sponsored videos that direct users to an advertiser's website after parent company ByteDance started to experiment with advertising in the U.S. and U.K. Previously, ByteDance acquired Muscial.ly, the music video app popular with U.S. teens, in December 2017 and moved its users to a revised version of TikTok last August.