A symbol of TikTok (Douyin) is pictured at The Place shopping mall at dusk on August 22, 2020 in Beijing, China.
VCG | Visual China Group | Getty Images
LONDON — TikTok has announced that it now has more than 100 million monthly active users in Europe and that number could grow massively in the years ahead, according to a social media expert.
Matthew Brennan, a China-based social media analyst, told CNBC on Tuesday that the rapid growth of Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, is a “bellwether” for TikTok’s growth in other regions.
Duoyin and TikTok are both owned by Beijing-headquartered ByteDance. Over the last few weeks, ByteDance has released some closely-guarded user numbers that show just how popular both apps are.
On Tuesday, it said Douyin hit 600 million daily active users in August. The announcement came a day after TikTok revealed more than 100 million people across Europe are active on TikTok every month. And last month, TikTok announced it had 100 million monthly active U.S. users.
Slowly but surely, ByteDance is painting a picture of how many people use its video sharing apps in each region.
Brennan thinks that China is two years ahead of the U.S. and Europe when it comes to short video. “The big question is the ceiling,” he said. “Where will TikTok/Douyin usage top out? If China hasn’t reached that ceiling yet, that means TikTok very likely has at least two to three years of strong growth left.”
Brennan pointed out that Douyin had 200 million daily active users in 2018. “Now it’s 600 million…that’s an instructive bellwether for TikTok’s potential growth in Europe and the U.S. for 2020-2022,” he said.
“You ain’t seen nothing yet, it’s still getting started,” he added.
Threat to U.S. social media
TikTok poses a major threat to U.S. social media giants as companies may start to spend their advertising budgets on TikTok instead of platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Snap.
Timothy Armoo, chief executive of Fanbytes, a company that helps brands advertise through social video, said TikTok’s success so far is down the company’s “focus on hyper personalization and of course their algorithm, which allows every user to feel like the app is tailor made to them.”
On the company’s European user numbers, Armoo said: “I can easily see 200 million on the horizon.”
Globally, TikTok has been downloaded over 2 billion times, according to app tracking firm Sensor Tower. But TikTok’s future is uncertain as governments around the world start to question its links to the Chinese Communist Party.
Under the deal, which was confirmed this week and will see Oracle become a “trusted technology provider,” U.S. TikTok users would have their data stored on Oracle’s servers in the U.S. Microsoft failed with its bid for the company.
“Geopolitics has thrown TikTok’s operations in markets like the U.S., India and Japan into unknown territory,” said Abishur Prakash, a geopolitical futurist at a strategy consulting firm called Center for Innovating the Future. “With the Microsoft bid failing, and China saying it would rather see TikTok U.S. shuttered than sold, the future of TikTok in parts of the west is becoming uncertain.”
If Trump does block the deal, Europe and Africa could become the new hub for TikTok, according to Prakash.
“If TikTok pivots to becoming ‘Europe first’ it means Chinese firms can succeed without the U.S. market,” he said. “As TikTok doubles down in Europe, a new Chinese soft power will exist. And, because TikTok is focused on the next-generation, Gen Z (and millennials) in Europe may grow up with Chinese technology and culture, not just American.”
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