Analytics firm Sensor Tower published its latest charts yesterday for the top grossing non-gaming apps globally, based on data from Apple and Google’s app stores. TikTok came top of the July 2020 chart with $102.5m of estimated user spending that month, followed by YouTube with $76.8m of estimated user spending.
We’re choosing our words carefully there: this is a measure of how much both apps are making from in-app purchases: virtual coins in TikTok which can then be used to buy virtual gifts, and subscriptions and the Super Chat feature in YouTube’s case. Neither estimate covers advertising revenues. One noteworthy thing for those TikTok revenues: 89% were in China and only 6% in the US.
Talking of China, the US and TikTok, there were some developments on that front yesterday. Editorials published in Chinese state media outlets offer a good snapshot of how the acquisition or shutdown of TikTok in the US is being viewed back in its homeland.
“China will by no means accept the ‘theft’ of a Chinese technology company, and it has plenty of ways to respond if the administration carries out its planned smash and grab,” claimed an editorial in China Daily. “The TikTok incident shows that in a US-led world, power overwhelms rules. There is no such thing as a fight for rules. The US will make it a fight for power. The basis for rules is morality. When morality clashes with power, the US will use power to knock morality down,” added an editorial in the Global Times.
It’s not just Chinese media that is criticising what’s happening in the US though. President Trump’s claims that the US Treasury should get a “substantial portion” of any TikTok sale earlier this week has sparked criticism in the Wall Street Journal too.
“While the US government has been compensated by private companies before, for financing or arranging bailouts, for instance, this would be unprecedented,” it suggested. “If the proposal is serious, and deemed legal, it would set a dangerous precedent for the seizure of foreign businesses through regulatory fiat, and open the door for US firms to suffer the same treatment.”
Those doing business in China – Apple most obviously – will be following this closely. And talking of Apple, a report yesterday on news site Axios claimed that “Apple has expressed interest” in buying TikTok too, although the story was swiftly updated with “An Apple spokesperson tells Axios that there are no discussions about buying TikTok and the company isn’t interested”.
That’s a very clear denial, but don’t bet against another technology company or private-equity firm emerging as a rival suitor to Microsoft. With a deadline of 15 September to get a deal done, we sense there are a few more twists in this tale to come.