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Popular chinese apps such as TikTok ShareIt UC Browser and WeChat are now banned in India
Popular chinese apps such as TikTok ShareIt UC Browser and WeChat are now banned in India

India a major market for Chinese apps on banned list

  • The ban will force many brands, influencers and content creators to see participation with Chinese apps as risky, says a brand consultant
  • Though social media apps have been grabbing most eyeballs, the likes of UC Browser, ShareIt and CamScanner too have a huge presence in India

India is a large and growing market for many of the 59 Chinese apps banned in the country, showed data from Sensor Tower, an app intelligence firm.

In India, these apps together accounted for 5% of total installs from Apple’s App Store and Google Play Store in April-June quarter, at 330 million new installs.

On 29 June, India banned many popular Chinese apps, including TikTok, Helo and WeChat, citing privacy and security concerns, in the backdrop of rising tensions with its northern neighbour.

TikTok, the most popular among them, had 16.4 million new installs in June. Overall, the app has over 200 million active users in India, or almost 40% of its 500 million users worldwide. It is also popular with brands and influencers. According to SensorTower, the app generated revenue of $924,000 from June 2019 to June 2020 in India through user spending alone. Adding advertising revenue, overall revenue would be a lot higher.

“TikTok earns a certain amount of revenue from India market. It is quite likely they are earning 2.5 crore in revenue per day. For whatever period of time the ban stays, they will lose the revenue," said Harish Bijoor, a Bengaluru-based brand consultant.

Bijoor points out that loss of reputation is a much bigger concern for TikTok than loss of revenue. The ban will force many brands, influencers and content creators to view participation with Chinese apps as risky.

TikTok’s sister app Helo, which caters to regional language audiences, has over 50 million users in India, as per its own estimates. Sensor Tower data shows Helo had 10.8 million installs in India in June.

ByteDance, which owns TikTok and Helo, had said in 2019 that it plans to invest $1 billion in India in three years.

Among other apps that were banned, Bigo Live, a live streaming app and Likee, a video streaming app, are also popular in India. Likee has run several engagement campaigns on its platform in association with leading Indian brands. In 2019, it partnered with Salman Khan Films to promote Dabangg 3. According to Sensor Tower, Likee had 6.1 million new installs, while Bigo Live had 2.1 million users in June. Likee made $776,000 in India through user spending in the app, according to Sensor Tower. Ad revenue is not included.

Though social media apps have been grabbing most eyeballs, the likes of UC browser, ShareIt and CamScanner, too, have a huge presence in India.

Alibaba-owned UC browser has over 430 million active users globally, and 130 million of them are in India. According to StatCounter, a web analytics firm, UC browser was the second leading mobile browser in India, with a 14.5% market share after Google Chrome, as of May 2020. As per Sensor Tower, UC browser had 6.1 million new installs in June.

Document scanning app CamScanner was one of the first Chinese apps to gain acceptance among Indian audiences. It has 100 million users in India, with 4 million new installs in June. The app’s revenue comes through ads and premium subscription plans. As per Sensor Tower, it made $1.94 million in app spending by users. It doesn’t include ad revenue.

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