TikTok Has Spawned Its Own Ecosystem of Nearly 1,000 Apps Totaling 1.3 Billion Downloads

Embedded within the universe of the broader mobile app market are smaller galaxies revolving around popular social media platforms such as TikTok, whose star has recently reached a luminosity of more than 3 billion installs​​ worldwide. Now, data from Sensor Tower’s intelligence platform reveals that the number of apps hoping to capitalize on TikTok’s popularity has reached more than 900 worldwide—with more than two-thirds of those having launched since January 2020.

A Big Bang in 2020

TikTok saw a meteoric rise in adoption last year, ending Q1 2020 with the most installs in a single quarter for any app ever. Unsurprisingly, as its popularity boomed, so did the number of apps launching into its orbit.

Approximately 400 apps hitching their wagon to TikTok debuted in 2020 on the App Store and Google Play worldwide, more than twice that of the nearly 200 apps launched in 2019. Although TikTok itself has remained at the top of the charts, the velocity of apps launching around it has slowed in 2021, reaching a level comparable to 2019 in the first 10 months of this year.

To date, TikTok—including Douyin on iOS in China—has reached approximately 3.3 billion installs globally. The more than 900 apps revolving around it have collectively reached nearly 40 percent of this across worldwide app stores.

Editors, Downloaders, and Empire-Builders

Nearly half of the apps mentioning TikTok are centered on enabling consumers to download videos to their devices, representing about 49 percent of all launches studied. This category’s growth was likely driven by TikTok users wanting to repost content to other social media platforms, as well as the desire to retain the content in case they lose access to the app. The second largest category of apps we studied offer analytics on followers and hashtags, as well as the supposed ability to increase follower count and engagement—this represents about 21 percent of apps operating in TikTok’s shadow.

Approximately 6 percent of the apps launched have been from competitors hoping to capture the attention of consumers by presenting themselves as similar alternatives. These included Josh, an Indian short video platform that launched shortly after TikTok was removed from app stores in that country.

Nebulous Opportunities Ahead

While new apps are still launching on the coattails of TikTok, the number of those that offer adjacent functionality has slowed so far in 2021. This shouldn’t be viewed as TikTok’s momentum waning—it certainly isn’t—but rather a sign of a ceiling being reached in this crowded subset of apps. Moving forward, more developers will likely opt to capitalize on the TikTok brand for marketing, rather than create apps meant to be used in conjunction with that platform.

There are also niche subcategories of apps sprouting up around TikTok that leverage it in various ways. These include aggregator apps, which compile videos from the platform on an ongoing basis, as well as simulators like Hype Me, which enables users to replicate the experience of running a popular TikTok channel, and Addison Rae Fake Call, through which users can have a simulated call with influencer Addison Rae. As TikTok’s social relevance continues to evolve, it’s likely that other esoteric apps such as these will debut in the future.

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