App Ban: China's Loss Is India's Gain The move to ban 59 Chinese apps has proved to be a boon for Indian apps as they continue to witness a surge in downloads

By Debarghya Sil

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Late on Monday night, founder of little-known India-made video-sharing platform Chingari, Sumit Ghosh, tweeted, "100,000 downloads per hour, guys please be patient! We are working on the servers and getting things up and running asap!"

It was the day when India delivered a "digital strike'—this is what India's Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad termed it—on China by banning 59 Chinese apps. The government reasoned that these apps were "prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order".

Ghosh and his team was not prepared for the sudden surge in downloads and the reason for the rush was that one of the apps being banned was the hugely popular Tik Tok, another video-sharing platform. The app recorded a staggering 3.5 million downloads in less than 48 hours of the government's move which came in the backdrop of the ongoing tensions between Indian and Chinese troops at the Indo-Tibetian border in Ladakh.

Some of these apps such as Tiktok, WeChat and CamScanner, among others, enjoyed millions of active users per month in India, banning of these apps has put the spotlight on Indian apps. These Indian apps have seen a surge in downloads ever since the ban. Needless to say, the banning of these apps and using Indian apps also resonates with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "Atmanirbhar Bharat' (self-reliant India) call.

The App-solute Gainers
Chingari is not the only app to have gained.

Bengaluru-based two-months old Mitron, a short video platform which is being hailed as an alternative to the popular Tik Tok and was already witnessing a steady growth, saw a stellar rise in downloads post the banning of Chinese apps.

"Ever since the Indian government announced a ban on several Chinese apps, the daily traffic jumped up by 11 times, which is beyond all expectations we had," Shivank Agarwal, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Mitron told Entrepreneur India.

The app took 70 days to cross the 10 million milestone without any marketing. However, in the last three days, the app's total download has doubled. At present, Mitron has 22 million downloads.

The app has lately raised INR 2 crore as part of their seed round from venture capital firm 3one4 Captial and Arun Tadanki's private syndicate LetsVenture. The team of Mitron wants to invest the fund to hire engineers to scale up the app.

"In parallel, we are engaging deeply with a wide network of Indian content creators which will provide our users with unique content that resonates with Indian users," Agarwal concluded.

Trell, a lifestyle community commerce platform, has witnessed a huge upsurge in the app's downloads. The app has witnessed a steady 25 times growth in the past one year.

"We have seen over 3.5 million downloads since (Monday), and it is rapidly scaling up every hour. It was an unprecedented move that has really helped Indian startups like us. Over 250,000 new creators have joined us in less than 24 hours and when we reach out to them. They tell us that they will stick to using our homegrown app as the sentimentality has changed completely and they trust us to give them quality Indian audiences and engagement," said Pulkit Agrawal, co-founder, Trell.

The app will also launch many new features and tools such as "Talk Show Hosting', "Reaction Maker', as this will help creators gain more traction and create new meaningful content that will help them earn a sustainable income.

According to Ghosh of Chingari, the app has gained over 11 million users in the last 22 days and they are looking to reach 100 million by the end of July.

Bolo Indya, an Indian video app for short videos, saw over 250,000 installs within 48 hours of the ban. Varun Saxena, co-founder, Bolo Indya, in a press statement said there was a huge jump in users in the first 24 hours of the ban.

Increase in download numbers was also seen on gaming apps. Pocket52, a real money poker app, saw a significant rise in the number of downloads after the ban of Chinese apps. "We have been growing at a rate of 25 per cent month-on-month for the past five months. Due to the app ban, we witnessed a consistent spike in traffic, and expect to grow at a rate of 35 per cent month-on-month in July," added Nitesh Salvi, founder and CEO, Pocket52.

Another Indian e-sports platform - Rooter agreed that the ban has helped them to fetch more numbers in terms of downloads. "Since the Chinese app ban, we have seen tremendous growth on our platform. The number of new users joining has gone up by 15x and we hope to onboard 1 million users in the next 10 days. We in total have 3 million downloads of our app while more than 5 million unique users have used our product on the web," added Piyush Kumar, CEO and founder, Rooter.

Debarghya Sil

Entrepreneur Staff

Former Correspondent

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