Some users and influencers who have tried these apps were not impressed with their UI and plan to focus on more established platforms like Instagram
The fact that Instagram has got a TikTok clone named Reels lined up also increases challenges for some of the new Indian apps
NEW DELHI: The day India banned 59 Chinese apps, Sumit Ghosh, co-founder Chingari and his team of 20, based out of Bengaluru, started seeing an overwhelming increase in downloads of their social media app. With 100,000 new downloads every hour, Chingari added 2 million users in the next two days. The app has gone from 2.5 million downloads before the ban on Chinese apps to 10 million downloads as of today. This sudden increase in traffic was unprecedented for Ghosh’s team.
“On 30 June we started experiencing issues like slow load time due to heavy traffic. We had to shut down some slow queries and optimise it at application level. We have been working 24x7 with AWS (Amazon Web Server) team to scale and keep the load under control and the application stable," said Sumit Ghosh, co-founder and chief product office at Chingari.
The surprise ban on TikTok, Likee and Bigo in India has created a vacuum for millions of millennial creators and users, and many of them are turning to homegrown social media apps like Roposo, ShareChat, Chingari and Mitron. For instance, Roposo was seeing 7 lakh downloads per day before the ban and now they are seeing 6 lakh downloads per hour. Roposo’s total downloads is now 75 million. Mitron has been getting more than 40 million video views every hour.
In addition to ensuring the app was handling the loads of new users, developers of Indian apps have also been working hard to make the apps more efficient.
“We found that video compression in our app wasn’t that great. We worked on it and now users can compress the video files a lot more without compromising on the quality. This not only reduced upload time but also the data consumption for users," said Shivank Agarwal, founder & CEO, Mitron.
Another area where Indian apps have got their work cut out is the user experience.
Some users and influencers who have tried these apps were not impressed with their UI and plan to focus on more established platforms like Instagram. The fact that Instagram has got a TikTok clone named Reels lined up also increases challenges for some of the new Indian apps.
“Indian app design has not been up to scratch, though there are some exceptions. The problem with Indian apps is that their developer’s focus is more on giving more features rather than simplicity and speed. As a result the overall user experience with Indian apps has been a real gap area," said Prasanto K Roy, a technology policy consultant.
Fully aware of the UI limitations, developers of Mitron and Chingari are working on improving the app’s interface. “We will be expanding our team and hire UX designers to give the interface a modern look and feel," points out Ghosh.
These apps have also started raising money to capitalize on the opportunity and to quickly fill the gaps in their technology, infrastructure and offerings. Raising capital will be crucial for these apps in order to scale up. Mitron has already received seed funding of ₹2 crore from 3One4 Capital and LetsVenture should help them implement these new improvements faster. Chingari is expecting a large seed funding in the next few days, a person aware of the company's plans said on the condition of anonymity.
Among Indian apps, the more established names like Roposo and ShareChat have a slight edge over the more recent Indian rivals. Roposo has been around since 2014, has a much larger team of 200 people and has received several rounds of seed fundings. More recently, it received $5 million funding in 2019 from Tiger Global. ShareChat raised $100 million last year from Twitter, TrustBridge Partners and others in August last year.
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