Do you hear that sound? It's the sound of Savage echoing off into the distance, never to be heard again.
Every day it seems more and more like TikTok ($PRIVATE:BYTEDANCE) will end up getting banned in the US, and while some of us are mourning the cultural loss of Vine and TikTok within five years, Snapchat ($SNAP) is licking its chops at the possibility of scooping up TikTok's massive, young userbase for itself. Snapchat has introduced some timely new features aimed at mimicking TikTok's interface, and with its similarly-aged userbase, the photo sharing app may be where TikTok's traffic end up.
Now is an especially interesting time for TikTok to vanish. If the bleary eyes and headaches weren't enough of a sign, Americans are spending more time looking at screens during quarantine. My iPhone loves to remind me every Sunday that my screen time has shot up hundreds of percentage points, and it's only going to keep going up now that I've discovered WitchTok. If the TikTokApocalypse really does come to pass, it's going to leave millions of users without an app to waste their time on - and there is plenty of time to be wasted. A quick scroll through the app reveals that creators are already plugging their profiles on apps like Dubsmash and Instagram ($FB) to preempt the possible ban, and a glitch last week only furthered the panic.
Snapchat's new format allows users to swipe vertically to navigate between stories on its Discover page in a way that mimicks TikTok's interface, and tap through to see all the different parts of each individual story. Clearly this is an attempt to provide a nice landing cushion for TikTok users migrating away from the app. If they stick with Snapchat, at least they won't have to learn a new interface.
TikTok's App Store ratings seem to utterly dwarf Snapchat's, which lost a painful 83% of its ratings between March 20 and March 25 when Apple likely purged old or bogus reviews (you can see that TikTok's ratings dipped in the same period, though only by about 160,000). But since then, reviews have increased 56% - a level of growth that's remarkable for an app 9 years old nearly to the date, and promising of its ability to scoop up users lost at sea.
However, it's TikTok's app ratings that give away the magnitude of opportunity here for its competitors. Ratings increased 54% in the same time period, adding nearly 2 million more reviews compared to Snapchat's less than 200,000. Ratings are still shooting up despite fear of a ban, and there is clearly more than just a demand for a time-wasting, viral social media app - there's a hunger for one. Snapchat may have an ideal platform to jump off and fill the void, but it will have to ward off competitors like Instagram, Dubsmash, and even Twitter which are circling like vultures.
Whether TikTok goes under or not, Snap Inc. is growing significantly. Job postings (not shown) have slowed down a bit since January, but the company has grown 14% with an approximate $7 increase in share price to match, creeping ever closer to it's one-time high back in 2017. Snap's had it rough in recent years, tanking shortly after its 2017 IPO and shedding users and executives like my dog sheds on the carpet. To make matters worse, apps like Instagram outright copied some of Snapchat's most popular features like Stories, which ended up sending Instagram hurdling way further ahead despite the idea not being original. But there's been a dramatic comeback since then, rocketing up the stock price, increasing users and leading Snap Inc. to be named Fast Company's most innovative company of 2020.
Bytedance is gearing up to fight a war on both fronts, both preparing for the possibility of a TikTok ban, alerting investors that it will focus more on its home market as well as going all-in on lobbyists to pressure congress and the president to leave the app alone. So the question that remains is whether an existing app will successfully fill the void, or if TikTok's enormous audience of zoomers and millenials will disperse towards several options like dust in the wind and not centralize on a specific app that rises to the prominence of cultural staple the way Vine and TikTok have. Better use what time we have left with the app to learn how to shuffle.
About the Data:
Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online, jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings, and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.