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Hong Kong Unrest Drives 4x Surge in Telegram Downloads, Boosts Other Apps Used by Protesters

Sensor Tower Store Intelligence Data shows Hong Kong protests are driving significant new installs of certain chat, social, and news apps.

Telegram App Downloads in Hong Kong

Ongoing civil unrest in Hong Kong is spurring significant uptake of mobile apps being employed by protestors there, Sensor Tower Store Intelligence data reveals. Chief among them is secure messaging app Telegram, which has seen first-time installs there more than quadruple year-over-year as of last month.

Telegram added an estimated 110,000 new users in Hong Kong during July across the App Store and Google Play, our data shows. This was a 323 percent Y/Y increase from the 26,000 users who installed the app for the first time in July 2018. It ranked No. 7 for downloads among all apps in Hong Kong last month, up from No. 88 a year earlier.

This was outsized compared to the app's growth in the rest of the world, where installs increased by 92 percent Y/Y last month. More recently, Telegram added 41,000 new users last week in Hong Kong, up 100 percent from the first week of July. The app has close to 1.7 million lifetime installs in Hong Kong and 365 million globally.

Social and News App Installs Spike

Other apps popular among protestors have also seen their installs soar. LIHKG, a message board known as "Hong Kong's Reddit," experienced a 900 percent Y/Y increase in first-time downloads of its app last month, adding 120,000 new users compared to 12,000 in July 2018. It was the No. 4 app overall in Hong Kong last month and ranked No. 287 one year ago.

In addition to individual apps, the overall news category has seen tremendous growth in the midst of the unrest. Downloads of such apps have grown 197 percent Y/Y according to our estimates, adding 1.6 million users last month compared to 522,000 in July of last year. Among them is Stand News, a source of political reporting that has been a key provider of local coverage of the protests and the issues surrounding them. The app added an estimated 92,000 first-time users last month, 65 times the number who installed it in July 2018.

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Oliver Yeh

Written by: Oliver Yeh, Founder at Sensor Tower

Date: August 2019