BUSINESS TikTok leads global downloads again in March despite US crackdown

BUSINESS

TikTok leads global downloads again in March despite US crackdown

Global Times

21:26, April 11, 2021

Chinese-owned short video app TikTok remained the most downloaded app worldwide in March, despite persistent crackdowns by the US over politically-motivated claims, latest industry data showed.

The logo of TikTok is displayed on the screen of a smartphone in front of a TV screen displaying the TikTok logo. Photo: VCG

However, the app may face more restrictions under the new US administration, as a China-US tech race continues to heat up, Chinese experts said on Sunday.

According to data released by Sensor Tower on its WeChat account, TikTok, as well as its Chinese version Douyin, had 58 million downloads in March around the world, the most among all mobile apps. TikTok ranked third in Google Play downloads, just behind Facebook and Instagram.

The data also showed that about 10 percent of the app's downloads took place in the US in March, compared with 11 percent in February. The app announced last year that its active users in the US had exceeded 100 million.

Experts have attributed TikTok's continued strong performance to its competitiveness in matching content to targeted consumers with the help of technology. But some have also pointed out that the US government's crackdown increased the company's popularity, attracting more consumers to the app.

Former US President Donald Trump issued an executive order forcing ByteDance to sell TikTok or have it banned from use in the US, but the deadline for the sale passed with no action as Trump stepped down, leaving issue to his successor Joe Biden.

An independent telecom expert surnamed Fu said that Trump's crackdown on Chinese apps like WeChat and TikTok had been "unusually top-down", unlike regular management of overseas companies. Considering Biden's "well-balanced" style, he is unlikely to roll out similar hard-line measures against companies like TikTok.

"I think that the Biden administration is more likely to respect principles and rules in its policies toward Chinese start-ups, though Biden's objective to slow down China's development pace would not differ much from Trump's," the expert told the Global Times.

According to Fu, since TikTok is mainly for entertainment use, it's very hard for the US government to link it to serious threats like national security. However, possibilities exist that the US government will announce some restrictive measures for the company, such as demanding that it put its servers in the US.

US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said recently that the Biden administration is still "reviewing" how to address Chinese companies such as Huawei and TikTok, without giving a clear answer as to whether the Biden administration will force ByteDance to sell TikTok, according to US newspaper The Hill.

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