China Removes WhatsApp & Threads

April 22nd, 2024

China Removes WhatsApp & Threads
Anh Nguyen

by Anh Nguyen

COO & Co-Founder at Gummicube, Inc

The international power struggle between the United States and China has once again reared its head into the realm of mobile apps.

Under Beijing’s new orders, WhatsApp and Threads were called for removal from the Chinese App Store. The government cited “national security” concerns as the main driver behind the ban. This wouldn’t be the first time an app has been removed by Apple due to non-compliance with local government policies. The New York Times app and a number of generative AI apps were also previously pulled from the China App Store.

In fact, this isn’t even the first time Meta Apps are restricted in the country. Usage of the apps in question, as well as Instagram and Facebook, has been historically blocked in the country with the only way to access them being through a VPN or other proxy tool. However, this latest move comes during a time of elevated tensions between the two nations with cybersecurity being a focal point in the conflict.

United States Legislators vs TikTok

On Saturday, April 20, The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to ban TikTok or force Bytdance, the Chinese corporation behind it, to sell its stake. The driver? You guessed it - national security.

While it might be a while before the measure is passed into law (if it even happens), it exemplifies the strained relationship between the two superpowers. China’s track record of restricting services and content is well-known. However, it is the American response that rings alarm bells for some, as it would be the first time the U.S. government bans Americans from using a foreign app.

While there is no shortage of case studies to showcase the bitter relations between the U.S. and China, this latest one marks a possible direction for future tech disputes.

What Does a TikTok Ban Mean for the App Market?

There’s no denying the monumental gap a ban on TikTok would leave in the American social media landscape. In China, domestic super apps like WeChat and Weibo dominate the market. Therefore, a ban on apps like WhatsApp and Threads poses no significant shift in the app market. As mentioned before, these apps are already technically banned, meaning there is no significant historical usage of them among the population.

On the other hand, the United States’ less restrictive business environment has opened the door for TikTok to become the social media giant it currently is in the country. According to Statista, TikTok currently sits comfortably at the top of apps with the highest revenue market share, at 26%. Compared to Instagram’s 14% and Facebook’s 10%, it’s easy to see how a sudden disappearance of TikTok would create a significant space to fill with millions of users potentially searching for an alternative.

Apps like Instagram, X, YouTube, and Facebook would most likely welcome the ban, giving them a larger playground to operate in. However, smaller apps shouldn’t ignore the opportunity it provides for them as well… and they don’t have to wait for a TikTok ban to start performing.

Start Your ASO Before the Ban

Whether you’re an industry giant or an App Store newcomer, you should be investing in your App Store Optimization if you want to take your app growth seriously. And “investing” in ASO doesn’t necessarily mean spending tens of thousands of dollars to get your app off the ground.

A recommended start to your ASO is to perform an audit of your current app listing and identify areas of improvement. Guide your analysis with proven strategies you see working for top apps in your market that you can emulate or adapt to your own app metadata optimization. Once started, expert guidance and the right ASO tools will be your best bet for accelerating your app marketing efforts.

Don’t go about your ASO alone. Get in touch with the industry’s leading experts at Gummicube today.

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