India is undoubtedly an important market for ByteDance-owned TikTok as the China-based company has been aiming to cross Rs 100 crore in revenues this year. But the government's ban on the video-sharing platform along with 58 other Chinese apps has played a dampener.
When the app was briefly banned last year over allegations of pornography on the platform, ByteDance told the Supreme Court (SC) that the ban cost it roughly $15 million a month, according to Reuters.
TikTok saw around 2 billion downloads in April on Google and Apple play stores put together, out of which over 30% came from India.
The video platform clocked in a profit of Rs 3.4 crore ($479,000) on revenue of Rs 43.7 crore in its first full year of operations in India in FY19, as per Ministry of Corporate (MCA) filings.
Around 5% of the total revenue, approximately Rs 2.16 crore was earned from the advertising sales, and rest 95% came from service fees collected from TikTok Singapore during FY19. ByteDance spent the most, Rs 13 crore, towards advertising and content expenses.
NO MATCH TO REVENUES FROM US, CHINA
TikTok's journey so far has been far from rosy in India - both in overcoming regulatory hurdles and making profit. Although India constitutes TikTok's largest user base, the country is not on the list of top revenue generators for ByteDance, the Chinese firm that owns TikTok.
According to the app tracking platform Sensor Tower, with 611 million total downloads, India forms around a third of the video platform's base, but the country accounted for a meagre Rs 25 crore revenue for quarter-ended December 2019.
Compare that to the US, where the app has been downloaded 165 million times, and generated $86.5 million (over Rs 650 crore) in revenues in 2019.
In home country China, TikTok has around 197 million users, and the app contributed $331 million (nearly Rs 2,500 crore) in revenue to ByteDance during the year, according to Sensor Tower.
Going by the numbers, India doesn't even feature on the list of top 10 markets (in terms of revenue contribution) in the world despite boasting the video platform's largest user base.
TIKTOK VS OTHER APPS
The mobile intelligence firm's 2020 (Q1) report said that TikTok had the most downloads for any app ever in a quarter, with 315 million installs across the App Store and Google Play.
WhatsApp was the top app on Google Play for each quarter since Q2 2016 before TikTok took the top spot in Q1 2020. TikTok was propelled to No. 1 with 61 percent growth year-over-year.
The app also had 67 million downloads on the App Store in Q1 2020, which was also the largest quarter for any app on record for the store.
While Facebook and Google were still well ahead of any other publisher on Google Play, ByteDance closed the gap between it and Google in Q1 2020. The company's installs grew 63 percent quarter-over-quarter, narrowing the gap between it and Google from 372 million downloads in Q4 2019 to less than 200 million last quarter.
In terms of downloads on Google Play, India was on top logging an increase of 8% from 4.70 billion in Q1 of 2019 to 5.07 billion in Q1 of 2020 (for January 1 through March 31, 2020).
But, India, also the top market worldwide in terms of overall downloads (Goole Play and App Store) lagged at 8.4% growth in Q1 of 2020, while the US and Brazil had strong download growth year-over-year at 17.6 and 27.1 per cent, respectively.
INVESTMENT IN INDIA
According to App Annie's 'The State of Mobile in 2019' report, there was an increase of 165 per cent in app store downloads between 2016 and 2018. Out of that, 50 per cent of top downloads in India in 2018, including TikTok, UC Browser, SHAREit were apps with Chinese investments.
But given the promise shown by the Indian market in terms of lowest internet costs in the world, and consumer number over 800 million, ByteDance had announced an investment of $1 billion in its India business over three years.
Around half of all smartphone users in India are below the age of 25 and hungry to consume more content on their devices.
Meanwhile, TikTok on Tuesday said that it is in the process of complying with the government's order on blocking of the app, asserting that it has not shared information of Indian users with any foreign government, including that of China.
The short video-sharing company said it has been invited to meet with concerned government stakeholders for an opportunity to respond and submit clarifications.
"The Government of India has issued an interim order for the blocking of 59 apps, including TikTok, and we are in the process of complying with it. We have been invited to meet with concerned government stakeholders for an opportunity to respond and submit clarifications," Nikhil Gandhi, Head of TikTok, India said in an official statement.