A new report from research firm Sensor Tower has found that a third of the biggest new apps in 2019 were “sidekick apps” for the likes of Instagram and TikTok. What are sidekick apps? They are apps that work in conjunction with ‘mother’ apps, adding new features or enhancements that the original app is lacking.

According to Sensor Tower, of the 480m installs of the top 20 new apps of 2019, 38% were “video/photo editors and sticker apps positioned as enhancements for the likes of TikTok and Instagram”.

MV Master, a video-creation tool for Instagram Stories, was the most popular overall of these ancillary apps, being downloaded 61m times.

It’s not unusual to see the big social apps generating a whole app ecosystem around them, although as we’ve seen in the past with platforms from Facebook to Twitter (and Spotify) these third-party ‘sidekick’ apps are at the mercy of the APIs and developer terms and conditions of the main apps. They can be cut off for flouting the rules, or if they prove really popular, can see their key features launched in the main apps. That said, these apps can also make tempting acquisition targets for those bigger apps. Also interesting: the third most popular new app, video editor Jianying Vlog, was made by TikTok’s own parent company, Bytedance.

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