- With a ban on Chinese apps, 200 mn Indians are looking for a new social media fix. Who will come out on top?
- This burst of excitement will have to come to grips with some real challenges. Building a social network requires deep pockets, an innovative workforce and substantial advertising revenue
NEW DELHI : Over the past three months, home-grown variants of short-video social networking apps have cruised through some unusual times. Border tensions and #BoycottChina campaigns had already resulted in a steady uptick in their user base. And then came the ban on 59 Chinese apps on the evening of 29 June, which targeted TikTok, Helo, Vigo Video and Bigo Live, among others.
By 9pm that evening, merely an hour after the announcement which hadn’t even come into effect yet, hourly installations spiked, with 300,000 to 400,000 people downloading the app every hour, according to Sumit Ghosh of Chingari, one of the several India-made apps vying to be a TikTok alternative. Within days, daily active users tripled on Roposo, another Indian short-video app.
With roughly 200 million Indians waiting to be snapped up, a mad dash has ensued to build a viable Indian social network from the ground up. While the Indian government’s ban targets a slew of apps—from browsers to file-sharing platforms—only a few segments have any real “Indian” alternatives. E-commerce platforms like Shein and Club Factory were also banned, but Flipkart and Myntra, which are the supposed Indian options, already have mature user bases.