The threat of TikTok being banned in the United States resulted in a spike in downloads for its competitors in July. However, these alternative apps have been fighting to increase their market share since before the beginning of 2020—and they’ve been steadily making progress. An analysis of Sensor Tower Store Intelligence data on the top five video-sharing apps across U.S. app stores in January of this year revealed that TikTok commanded approximately 76 percent of installs, while the remaining four collectively represented the remaining 24 percent. In August, the market share of ByteDance’s four largest competitors had climbed to 44 percent, shrinking TikTok’s share by 20 percentage points in the process.
TikTok Alternatives’ Growing Audiences
Although installs were down month-over-month for TikTok as well as its competitors in August, Sensor Tower data shows that TikTok’s rivals among the top five video-sharing apps in the U.S. each month grew their monthly active users. In August, the cohort’s combined U.S. MAUs across iOS and Android devices climbed 12 percent from July, and were 49 percent higher than January. This may indicate that these alternative video-sharing apps are developing some lasting appeal among users who are test-driving a potential TikTok substitute.
Since January, Triller and Likee have consistently ranked in the top five most-downloaded video-sharing apps in the U.S. each month, marking them as potential frontrunners in the race for a share of TikTok’s audience. However, no clear winner has yet emerged among ByteDance’s competitors, and TikTok is still leading the pack in this category. Despite the uncertainty around its future, TikTok’s combined MAUs across the U.S. App Store and Google Play have grown 51 percent from January to August and have increased slightly since June despite the threat of a ban.
The Value of TikTok’s Audience
If TikTok’s competitors can claim even a portion of ByteDance’s sizable user base, they stand to gain access to a massive audience and the opportunity to advertise to them. TikTok’s users are also growing increasingly accustomed to spending money in the app, which would bode well for rivals’ revenue prospects. In the first eight months of this year, worldwide consumer spending in TikTok, spent on Coins for tipping content creators, reached $592 million on the App Store, including Douyin on iOS in China. This figure represents nearly one-fifth of the $3 billion generated by apps in the entertainment category on the App Store globally.
In that same period, TikTok generated nearly $35 million in user spending from the U.S. App Store, or a little more than 4 percent of the $850 million consumers spent on Entertainment apps on that platform. On Google Play, where TikTok is categorized as a Social app, U.S. consumers spent approximately $6.6 million, or 4 percent of the roughly $181 million generated by apps in that category.
At this stage, it’s impossible to predict whether TikTok’s rivals will be able to capture the same degree of consumer spending, but a portion of the revenue may very well go to alternative apps, especially as they grow their market share.
More Choices for Consumers
Instagram rolled out Reels on its platform on August 5, while YouTube and Snapchat are both adding features they hope will entice TikTok’s devoted user base. Though Reels hasn’t impacted Instagram’s installs in any appreciable way since its debut, Sensor Tower data shows that the app’s average weekly active users across both platforms in the U.S. increased slightly in August from the month before.
Even if the TikTok isn’t ultimately removed from U.S. app stores, its users now have a plethora of alternatives and options to choose from—and developers will undoubtedly continue to innovate as the competition intensifies.
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