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TikTok ban undercuts ByteDance in one of the world's biggest digital markets

June 30, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

TikTok's big bet on India just got hamstrung by rising geopolitical tensions.

The Indian government this week said it will ban TikTok and other well-known Chinese apps, including messaging platform WeChat and mobile browser UC Browser, saying they pose a "threat to sovereignty and integrity. "

India has been the biggest driver of new TikTok downloads, generating close to 660 million installs since its launch in 2017, according to analytics firm Sensor Tower.

Parent company ByteDance could "miss out on another 100 to 150 million first-time installs of TikTok in India" in the second half of this year because of the ban, said Randy Nelson, an analyst with Sensor Tower.

The ban also presents a major complication for ByteDance and other companies that are trying to take advantage of India's internet boom, according to Akhil Bery, an analyst with the Eurasia Group.

Bery noted that the Indian government has yet to clarify how it intends to enforce the ban, or whether it plans to ask the Google (GOOGL) Play and Apple (AAPL) iOS stores to remove the apps.

In addition to TikTok, the crackdown includes Helo, another app the Beijing-based startup has launched in India.

"It's a tough slap in the face for ByteDance as they were growing 50% year-on-year in India," said Greg Paull, an analyst with consulting firm R3.

ByteDance had forecast over $1 billion in advertising revenue from India this year, most of it generated by TikTok, according to estimates from R3.

When it comes to in-app revenue — money users spend buying virtual items in TikTok — India also makes up about $1. 5 million to date, or less than 1% of TikTok's total, according to Nelson, of Sensor Tower.

But growth there has been huge: Indian users spent about $520,000 in TikTok this quarter, up 277% compared to the same period a year earlier.

A spokesperson said after the ban was announced that ByteDance "is committed to working with the [Indian] government to demonstrate our dedication to user security and our commitment to the country overall. "

The Indian government ban listed TikTok and 58 other apps, including many prominent Chinese ones.

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