Instagram Tops TikTok As World’s Most Downloaded App

instagram, meta, social media

Meta’s Instagram beats TikTok to become most downloaded app in the world for 2023 after introducing copycat short-video feature

Instagram beat out TikTok to rise to the top of new app downloads last year, building on the success of its copycat short-form video feature.

The app saw a 20 percent rise in downloads worldwide to reach 768 million, compared to a 4 percent rise for TikTok, which had 733 million downloads for the year, Sensor Tower said.

Instagram parent Meta Platforms has been targeting the meteoric success of TikTok, with chief executive Mark Zuckerberg calling the Chinese-owned app a major competitor.

In 2022 Instagram introduced its Reels feature, seen widely as a copycat version of TikTok’s signature short-form video-sharing service.

instagram reels


Sensor Tower said Instagram’s success at bringing in new users was “likely driven by the popularity of its Reels feature” as well as others such as the Stories disappearing video service, an apparent copy of a similar function in Snapchat.

Bernstein analyst Mark Shmulik said Instagram had successfully kept existing users on the app while adding new ones attracted by short-form videos, so that for “the next batch of potential TikTok users, there’s no incentive to switch”.

He said TikTok was seen by influencers as a better place to gain overnight fame, while Instagram was better for making money from a large user base.

Instagram had nearly 1.5 billion monthly active users at the end of 2023, rising 13 million in the fourth quarter, Sensor Tower found.

User engagement

During the same period TikTok had 1.12 billion active users, a decline of 12 million, suggesting TikTok’s growth is levelling off.

But TikTok’s users were more active, spending 95 minutes a day on the platform in the fourth quarter, compared to 62 minutes for Instagram, 30 minutes on X – formerly Twitter – and 19 minutes for Snapchat.

TikTok has also had significant success at building merchandise sales from its videos, a feature that is already  immensely popular in Asia.

In 2023 TikTok Shop generated an estimated $4 billion (£3.1bn) from in-app purchases last year, according to Sensor Tower, compared to $143m for Instagram.

Merchandise sales

TikTok made $1.1bn in gross merchandise revenues from the US alone last year, and has already seen $500m in gross sales so far this year, according to reports.

In 2022 Meta reportedly hired a Republican consulting firm to stir up public distrust around its competitor, which has been targeted by a number of efforts to have it banned in the US.

The US Congress is currently considering a bill that would give Beijing-based parent company ByteDance about six months to divest TikTok’s US operations, or see it banned in the country.