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Hong Kong protests drive Telegram installations

Ongoing civil unrest in Hong Kong is spurring the significant uptake of mobile apps being used by protesters. Messaging app Telegram has gained the most popularity. It has seen first-time installation more than quadruple year-over-year as of last month in Hong Kong, according to the latest data by Sensor Tower, a US-based provider of market intelligence and insights for the global app economy.

Sensor Tower’s store intelligence data revealed Telegram has added an estimated 110,000 new users in Hong Kong during July across the App Store and Google Play. This was a 323% year-over-year increase from the 26,000 users who installed the app for the first time in July 2018. It ranked seventh for downloads among all apps in Hong Kong last month, up from being ranked 88 a year earlier.

Most recently, it recorded 41,000 new users in Hong Kong last week alone, up 100% from the first week of July. The app now has nearly 1.7 million lifetime installations in Hong Kong and 365 million globally.

The vast majority of protesters have created group chats on Telegram to provide updates, share protest flyers, and exchange details on the execution of protests. Some of the groups have tens of thousands of members.

Other apps popular among protesters have also seen their installation numbers soar.

Sensor Tower found that LIHKG (commonly known as 連登討論區 in Chinese), a message board known as “Hong Kong’s Reddit”, recorded a 900% year-over-year increase in first-time downloads of its app last month, adding 120,000 new users compared with 12,000 in July 2018. It was the fourth top app overall in Hong Kong last month, but was only ranked 287 a year ago.

In addition to individual apps, the overall news category has seen tremendous growth in the midst of the unrest. Downloads of apps in this category have grown 197% year-over-year, adding 1.6 million users last month compared with 522,000 in July of last year, Sensor Tower estimated.

Stand News, a local online news media, has gained momentum in growing its users. The app added an estimated 92,000 first-time users last month, 65 times the number who installed it in July 2018. It has been a key provider of local coverage of the protests and related issues.

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