Trump's TikTok Ban Threat Led to 360 Percent Surge in Rival App Downloads

TikTok's rivals have enjoyed a surge in installs after the Chinese-owned app found itself in the Trump administration's crosshairs.

The president has said the popular short-form video app will be banned in the U.S. over national security concerns. Last Sunday, technology giant Microsoft confirmed it is now exploring a partial acquisition of the company—with Trump's blessing.

As threats against TikTok mounted last month, four potential challengers—Triller, Zynn, Dubsmash and Byte—saw their installs collectively spike by more than 300 percent when compared to statistics from the week prior, Sensor Tower data shows.

"While ByteDance maneuvers to avoid a ban... consumers have turned their attention to alternative video-sharing apps in case TikTok is forced to shutter in its third largest market," Stephanie Chan, mobile insights strategist, explained in a report.

While TikTok still dominated the worldwide download charts overall last month, analysis suggests that it is suffering a sustained decline in monthly growth.

According to Sensor Tower, TikTok's app had 65.3 million installs worldwide from the App Store and Google Play in July. That was a decrease of about 25 percent from June, when it had around 87 million downloads. The June figure was down about 20 percent from May, when TikTok attracted closer to 108 million downloads globally.

U.S. performance also slowed in the past three months: Sensor Tower said it had 6.3 million installs in July, compared to 7.5 million in June and 8.2 million in May.

In comparison, TikTok's four rivals collectively had nearly 1.5 million installs during the week of July 27, as Trump's threats gained widespread attention. The prior week, they had an aggregate 316,000 installs, meaning the figure jumped by 361 percent.

Triller, which has attracted attention due to its ties to Hollywood studios, musicians and celebrities, was this week ranked top in the iOS App Store in 50 countries. It claims to have reached a milestone of more than 250 million downloads worldwide.

The future of TikTok, which is owned by a Chinese tech company called ByteDance, is far from certain. Competition will only increase if other firms smell blood in the water. This week, Facebook got involved with the unveiling of an Instagram rival called Reels.

President Trump has given Microsoft until mid-September to finalize any business deal with ByteDance, the possible terms of which remain unknown at the time of writing.

Trump has suggested the Treasury should get a financial cut of any agreement made, a comment that was almost immediately compared to "extortion" by critics.

"As ByteDance works to resolve its situation in the U.S., its competitors now have even more opportunities to grow," Chan wrote. "As the playing field grows crowded with so many choices, developers will have to continually... vie for consumers' attention."

TikTok Logo
In this photo illustration, a mobile phone featuring the TikTok app is displayed next to the Microsoft logo on August 03, 2020 in New York City. Under threat of a U.S. ban on the popular social media app, it has been reported that Microsoft is considering taking over from Chinese firm ByteDance. Cindy Ord/Getty