Despite a ban on TikTok by India, the app's popularity has grown overtaking Instagram, becoming the second most popular social network platform in the country, according to Digital Trends - India, December 2020 report by SimilarWeb, an online portal that provides web analytics service.
TikTok was among the 200-plus mobile applications (mostly of Chinese origin or being marketed/distributed by entities based in that country) blocked by the Indian government last year, citing privacy and data security concerns of Indian citizens.
“TikTok was the big winner following the COVID-19 outbreak, with monthly active users increasing 100%,” the report states. The app was blocked by India on June 29, 2020.
The increase in the number of TikTok users or deeper penetration could have been because the ban was immediately applicable only on new installs and existing users could still access the platform. Also, new users could download the app from various websites, which provide the .apk file (a package file format which allows a mobile app to be installed from unofficial or 'unknown' sources). Users were also able to access the platform through Virtual Private Network (VPN) despite the ban, experts suggest.
Likewise, the install penetration of Netflix grew by 30 percent year-on-year, thanks to the COVID-19 lockdown which confined people in their homes leading to increase in online streaming. The popular video service platform “is a real threat to India’s streaming giants”, says the report.
As a result of the shutdown, web traffic--to top 100 websites in India---in 2020 saw a (14 percent) rise over the previous year. Mobile traffic too increased due to availability of cheaper handsets and data plans.
While news and media sites witnessed a significant increase in traffic, shopping/marketing places saw a fall. However, among the shopping category, India saw the fastest recovery and increase in October last year, compared to fellow economies.
Shopping apps like Flipkart, Amazon and Myntra reported faster recovery post April. Electronics, home and kitchen, computers and accessories as well as musical instruments, toys and games were among Amazon’s fastest growing categories.
Another interesting trend the report highlights is faster rebounding growth shown by hotels compared to flights as a result of COVID-19 impact.