IPhone users in the US are rushing to install messaging app WeChat days before President Donald Trump is set to ban downloads in the country.
WeChat downloads surged to make it the 100th most-downloaded app in the US, according to mobile analytics firm SensorTower. It has typically ranked between 1,000th and 1,500th this year. This is the first time the app has
entered the top 500 so far in 2020, a spokesperson for SensorTower said in an email.
The US government moved to ban WeChat, run by China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd., and another popular Chinese-owned app TikTok, citing national security concerns. The prohibitions will prevent the US consumers for downloading the apps or installing updates.
WeChat will also be hit with a ban on using American companies to run transactions and conduct internet traffic, meaning people still using the app will likely experience slowdowns and glitches because third-party tech services that keep it running won’t work anymore.
TikTok’s ranking as the fourth-most popular app on the iPhone store was unchanged, SensorTower said. It hasn’t dropped out of the top 15 for all of 2020.
The video-sharing app’s owner ByteDance Ltd. is negotiating a deal to hand control of its US operations and data to Oracle Corp. in order to satisfy US concerns that the data of Americans who use the app could fall into the hands of the Chinese government. TikTok will still be able to do business with American companies until November 12. That means the app, which is extremely popular with young Americans, will likely keep working for users until after the Nov. 3 presidential election.
Chinese officials, who will have to approve the final TikTok deal, have called the US actions against the two apps “economic bullying.”