Tik Tok hits 500 million global monthly active users as China social media video craze continues

The craze for short videos shows no signs of abating in China if Tik Tok's continued popularity is anything to go by.

Tik Tok, the popular short video app developed by Chinese tech firm Beijing Bytedance, said on July 17 that the number of its global monthly active users has hit 500 million.

Tik Tok, known as Douyin in mainland China and launched in 2016, is a short video sharing platform where users can watch and produce quick videos using music, stickers and animations as effects. Last month Douyin said on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media, that it had accumulated more than 300 million monthly active users in mainland China alone.

Although messaging remains the dominant activity on mobile, users have more than tripled the amount of time they spend watching short videos in the last year, according to the China Internet Report co-authored by the South China Morning Post, Abacus and 500 Startups. The number of monthly active users for short video apps in China doubled in 2017 to 414 million, according to the report. Now mobile users in other countries are also embracing the format, making short-video apps the latest export from China's internet giants.

Tik Tok, Douyin’s overseas version, was the most downloaded non-game app in the Apple app store globally in the first quarter of 2018, reaching 45.8 million downloads, according to Sensor Tower, the San-Francisco-based mobile app research firm.

Bytedance is also the operator of China’s largest news aggregator Jinri Toutiao, which employs artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to recommend different news stories to different groups of news readers based on their own interests. Toutiao was first launched in 2012.

Douyin competes with Tencent, operator of China’s biggest social media app WeChat and backer of rival live-streaming video platform Kuaishou, in earning user loyalty or “stickiness”.

Beijing-based Kuaishou, known as Kwai outside China, ranked as the most downloaded video social sharing app in South Korea, Vietnam, Philippines, Russia, Thailand, Indonesia and Turkey, according to a press release distributed through PRNewswire on May 28, which did not give any specific download figures.

Kwai enables people to capture and share short videos instantly and quickly gained popularity in China for its clips of stunts and pranks posted by young people living in small Chinese towns. The platform accelerated its move overseas after Chinese authorities tightened scrutiny on content posted on social media and online video platforms.

The keen competition between Bytedance and Tencent in the short video and social arena spilled over into a legal fight recently. Last month, Bytedance announced it had filed two lawsuits against Tencent over alleged anti-competitive behaviour. On the same day, Tencent said it had filed a lawsuit against Bytedance alleging defamation. — South China Morning Post

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Tik Tok; China


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