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China tech

India becomes top download market for TikTok

Chinese social video app aims to launch music streaming service in December

Tiktok has been downloaded 614 million times in India so far in 2019, versus 45.5 million downloads in China and 37.6 million in the US.    © AP

BANGALORE -- In little less than two years, India has become the largest market for Chinese social video app TikTok, which has seen 1.5 billion downloads globally. According to a report by mobile intelligence company Sensor Tower, Indians accounted for 466.8 million downloads of the TikTok app, amounting to a third of the total.

The report said that in 2019 so far, TikTok had 614 million downloads, 6% up on 2018. Indians have downloaded the short video app 277.6 million times, accounting for 45% of its total global installations this year. Surprisingly, China is trailing with 45.5 million downloads this year, or 7.4% of the total, while the U.S. is its third biggest market with 37.6 million downloads, or about 6%.

The platform, owned by Chinese internet company ByteDance, has also moved from fourth to third place in the most downloaded non-gaming app category, after WhatsApp with 707.4 million downloads and Facebook Messenger with 636.2 million.

TikTok now has more than 200 million users in India, just behind video platform YouTube, which has 265 million users in the country.

Most of the increase can be attributed to the fact that half of India's 1.3 billion population is under the age of 25 and that users have access to very cheap mobile data packages from Reliance Jio, which has enabled deeper internet penetration even in India's hinterlands.

Between 2012 and 2018, the time spent by Indians watching online videos grew exponentially from an average of two minutes per day to 52 minutes a day, according to a report released by media agency Zenith.

TikTok's market share in India grew by 13% from January 2018 (when TikTok launched in India) to August 2019, faster than more established social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter, according to a report by New Delhi-based data intelligence and management platform Kalagato. The report found that Facebook and Twitter lost more than 40% of their market share in India during the period. TikTok India amassed a profit of $479,000 in its first year of operations.

In further monetization moves, TikTok has now started embedding links to e-commerce platforms such as Snapdeal and ClubFactory in between videos. It currently enables select users to add links to e-commerce sites to their profile biographies. It also supports 15 Indian languages on its platform.

According to the Financial Times, ByteDance is in talks with the big three names in the music world -- Universal Music, Sony Music and Warner Music -- to launch a new music subscription service, set for roll-out in December in markets such as India, Indonesia and Brazil, before heading on to a mature market like the U.S.

KrASIA is a digital media company focused on technology-driven businesses and trends across the Asia-Pacific region. It is part of 36Kr, a tech news portal based in Beijing. Nikkei has a minority stake in 36Kr.

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