Notwithstanding the fears of the U.S. government over TikTok, which eventually led to the U.S. Navy banning branches of the military from using the app, TikTok had a stellar 2019 in terms of both usage and sales. In 2019 alone, 44 percent of TikTok’s cumulative 1.65 billion installs to date, or 738 + million installations, took place, according to new data from Sensor Tower. And while TikTok is still just experimenting with different forms of monetization, in terms of revenue, the company had its best year, grossing $176.9 million in 2019—or 71 percent of its $247.6 million all-time revenue.
Apptopia had recently reported TikTok was bringing out $50 million per quarter.
The number of TikTok installs in 2019 is up 13 percent from the 655 million deployments the company had in 2018, and TikTok’s highest ever holiday quarter (Q4 2019), with 219 million downloads, up 6 percent from TikTok’s previous best quarter, Q4 2018. According to Sensor Tower numbers, TikTok was also the second-most downloaded (non-game) device worldwide in 2019 through the Apple App Store and Google Play.
Nonetheless, the latest “State of Mobile” study by App Annie placed it in fourth place, behind Snapchat, Twitter and WhatsApp— not just behind WhatsApp, as does Sensor Tower.
Nonetheless, the spike in downloads from TikTok in 2019 is largely tied to the popularity of the app in India. Although the app was suspended briefly in the world earlier in the year, it still accounted for 44% (or 323 million) of 2019.
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TikTok’s home country, China, is TikTok’s main sales generator, spending $122.9 million on iOS customers, or 69 percent of the total, and more than twice what U.S. users spent on the app ($36 million). The U.K. In terms of revenue, it was the third-largest investor with consumers investing $4.2 million in 2019.
Nonetheless, these figures are minuscule compared to Facebook’s estimated trillions-on-trillions earned, or even the low-digit trillions received by smaller social apps such as Twitter. To be honest, on sales, TikTok remains in an experimental phase. It launched a wide range of ad formats in 2019, including brand takeovers, in-feed native content, hashtag competitions and lens filters. This dabbled even in commercial trade.
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Meanwhile, tipping has allowed only a handful of creators to earn money in live streams — another field that needs to see growth in the months ahead if TikTok aims to take YouTube as a home for creator creativity.
What TikTok loses in sales, the user engagement makes up for. In 2019, the time spent in the app rose 210 % year-over-year to hit a record of 68 billion hours, according to App Annie. TikTok already has the interest of consumers but now it’s going to have to figure out how to draw on those eyeballs to make money.