TikTok's Parent ByteDance Really Wants to Take Over the US

Ariel Ariel
3/31/23

This is a single insight from This Week in Apps - Everyone's Taking on Instagram. Check out the full article for more insights.


TikTok seems to be winning the ban war right now, but while most people are paying attention to that, ByteDance, TikTok's parent company is making another push in the US and taking on another big platform.

TikTok's new sibling is Lemon8, a competitor to Instagram and Pinterest, as some TikTokers are calling it, and feels a bit like a way for influencers to sell or promote products.

The app itself launched right into covid, in March of 2020, but didn't make it to the US until this week.

Downloads of Lemon8, from ByteDance

Lemon8, which is published by a company name that isn't ByteDance but really is ByteDance under the hood, rolled out on Monday and managed to climb to the top of its category by Tuesday morning.

It also managed to crack the top 10 overall in the US App Store, but couldn't hold the spot for more than 3 hours.

In terms of downloads, we estimate that Lemon8's US release added 130K iOS users between Monday and Wednesday, making Tuesday Lemon8's biggest day of downloads since release and the US the top country during those three days.

Of the 12 million downloads we estimate Lemon8 saw from the App Store since 2020, 40%, or roughly 5M downloads, came from Japan and 37%, or 4.4M, came from Indonesia.

These aren't exactly TikTok numbers, but that's because ByteDance is experimenting. For example, Lemon8 tried launching in China but it didn't work out. Stiff competition from incumbents led to the app being removed from the App Store very quickly.

Another reason why I don't think ByteDance is going full ham yet is that this launch was not assisted by Apple Search Ads, a strategy that's very common these days. Instead, Lemon8 paid TikTokers to promote the new app, and given the low downloads, I imagine even that campaign was very small.

I expect to see Lemon8 rising and becoming a headache for Instagram and possibly Pinterest, given how big the opportunity for influencer sales is and how little competition there is.

I also expect to see some serious spend on Apple Search Ads in the future.

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All figures included in this report are estimated. Unless specified otherwise, estimated revenue is always net, meaning it's the amount the developer earned after Apple and Google took their fee.


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