Indrani Sen: TikTok Ticks Fast in India during Lockdown

04 May,2020

By Indrani Sen


Sensor Tower, a US-based app analytics firm has estimated that between March 25 and April 10, 2020, Zoom, TikTok and Aarogya Setu topped the list of apps downloaded by the Indians during the first two weeks of lockdown. The statistics was published in ThePrint in their article on India’s favourite apps in Lockdown ( on April 22, 2020.

As corporate India was suddenly forced to work from home, it is not surprising that Zoom, the video conferencing app became India’s most downloaded app during March 25 to April 10, 2020. It is also understandable that Aarogya Setu, the mobile app developed and promoted heavily by the Government of India, connecting people with the healthcare facilities as well as Government advisories in the fight against COVID 19, was the third most downloaded app. TikTok, which was a close second to Zoom, reaffirmed the addiction which Indians have developed for the app ever since its launch in 2017.

TikTok by definition is just an app where users post their short videos, but in practice it has turned the small screen to a stage for mini reality shows where people compete and crave for attention, for instant celebrity status, for a different life than their mundane existence or simply for emotional release from day to day monotony in social media. It has taken the imagination of Indians fed by song and dance sequences and fantasy of Bollywood movies by storm. For Indian youth TikTok is not just a time pass, it offers them an outlet for their hidden creativity combined with a career option and scope of financial success.

TikTok was launched in 2017 by its parent company, the Chinese media business ByteDance for iOS and Android operating systems in markets outside China. ByteDance acquired, a social-media platform for sharing music videos, for $1 billion and merged it with TikTok on August 2, 2018 and TikTok downloads started surging ahead from that time.

Some parents and politicians in India think the content of TikTok is inappropriate for children. On April3, 2019, the Madras High Court after hearing an IPL asked the Government of India to ban the app. Accordingly, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology ordered Google and Apple app stores to remove the TikTok app. However, the ban was reversed by court order in a subsequent court case on April 24, 2019 and the TikTok app returned on app stores.

A year back in May 2019, India was already topping the list of top ten countries using TikTok apps in the world ( showing three times more number of users than USA.

Top 10 TikTok Users as on May, 2019

Rank Country TikTok Users (mn)
1 India 119.3
2  USA 39.6
3 Turkey 28.4
4 Russia 24.3
5 Mexico 19.7
6 Brazil 18.4
7 Pakistan 11.8
8 Saudi Arabia 9.7
9 France 9.1
10  Germany 8.8



By the end of 2019, TikTok shocked even the Netizens when it achieved the number one position in terms of worldwide downloads hitting 1.5 billion downloads and beating Facebook. India had almost 44 per cent share of the 1.5 billion downloads and again topped the list. It is estimated that at the end of 2019 there were more than 200 million TikTok users in India making India TikTok’s biggest global market.

On January 28, 2020, carried a story “TikTok targeting INR100 crore revenue in India by September 2020” ( The TikTok management was hoping to ride on their new ad formats for brands, including in-feed videos, branded effects such as AR filers and branded lens, hashtag challenges, etc. for realising their business target.

It would be interesting to see if TikTok still manages to achieve its business target in 2020 when all traditional and non-traditional media are anticipating loss of ad revenue due to the prolonged lockdown to fight Covid-19 19 in India. There is no doubt that even if TikTok suffers a setback, it will recover faster than traditional media.

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