TikTok continues to dominate download charts in Q1 and sees record spending in the app

ByLance T. Lee

Apr 7, 2022

Despite all efforts to steal its thunder, duplicating its functionality and diluting the app’s “uniqueness”, Meta just can’t stop TikTok’s growth.

According to the last Sensor Tower app ranking dataTikTok was again the most downloaded app in Q1 2022, beating a phalanx of Meta-owned apps.

To be clear, Meta’s apps remain hugely popular, while continued interest in Shopee highlights the expanding e-commerce market. But TikTok downloads continue to increase, which would be a source of frustration for the Meta team.

As you can see from the charts lists, CapCut, which is basically a video editing tool for TikTok, also owned by ByteDance, also retained its spot in the top downloads chart, after the last quarter, further underscoring TikTok’s continued growth momentum. Which, again, would infuriate Zuck and Co to no end, because while they only ever seem to be talking about the Metaverse these days and looking to the future of the web, at least some of that future direction is is produced because it is losing the current battle, with Facebook’s slowing user count and Instagram not providing an official update on its user count for years.

Additionally, a look at the consumer spending chart further highlights the strength of TikTok.

Graphs of the Sensor Tower Q1 2022 application

An important condition here is that the TikTok figures also include consumer spending on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, which contributes approximately 60% of its overall turnover. But even with that in mind, TikTok had a record quarter for in-app spending, hitting $840 million in the first quarter, according to information from data.ai.

TikTok consumer spending growth chart

Importantly, data.ai also notes that US spending in TikTok is up 125% quarter over quarter, showing that US users are indeed looking to spend more in the app, a positive sign for its e-commerce plans evolving. This could present significant opportunities, which would make TikTok an even bigger issue for Meta, at least in a competitive spending sense.

So it’s hard to predict how the race for social commerce will play out, with Meta also looking to make in-app spending a bigger part of Facebook and Instagram.

Just this week, Instagram took the next step by leaning into product tags as a bigger revenue consideration for creators, removing streaming video ads as a placement option. The eventual progression will likely see Instagram make a bigger push to encourage more ongoing product discovery and purchase activity, which again appears to be a move designed to dampen TikTok’s momentum in the same space.

But TikTok continues to grow. According to data.ai:

“We predict that TikTok would exceed the 1.5 billion MAU mark in 2022, and after only 1 quarter in 2022, ICT Tac indeed shattered that prediction. Not only ICT Tac have a growing user base, the app has fostered deep engagement – with global users outside of China spending 19.6 hours per month on average in the app in 2021.”

TikTok’s growth is unprecedented, and its addictive “For You” feed continues to draw more and more people. It’s already one of the biggest social media apps in the world, and it’s expected to become the second largest platform by the end of the year, according to App Annie forecasts.

For clarity, Instagram is rumored to have around 2 billion total users right now, according to a recent report, but Instagram and Meta have not officially confirmed this stat. This means that TikTok might have already overtaken Instagram usage and is now slowly approaching Facebook itself.

Now you know why Meta is so eager to turn to the next digital plain.

It’s amazing how big TikTok has become as it continues to expand into new markets. There are still concerns about its Chinese ownership and the potential obligations it has regarding sharing user data with the CCP. This remains a major risk for the platform, especially as China takes a more aggressive stance on global issues. But all signs suggest that TikTok is the platform of the moment, and where more and more people are spending more and more time.

The only other key challenge is effective monetization and ensuring TikTok stars are properly paid for their efforts. That’s where e-commerce comes in, but it remains to be seen whether TikTok can translate its e-commerce and subscription-like tools into an effective monetization path comparable to YouTube and Facebook.

There’s still a chance it loses on that front, but for now, TikTok remains the focal point for the current generation of internet users.

You can check the Sensor Tower Q1 apps update here and the latest TikTok performance update from data.ai here.

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