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Millions of millennial creators are turning to Indian social media apps like Roposo, ShareChat, Chingari and Mitron
Millions of millennial creators are turning to Indian social media apps like Roposo, ShareChat, Chingari and Mitron

Homegrown platforms fill vacuum created by ban on Chinese apps

Chingari, an Indian short-video app like TikTok, has gone from 2.5 million downloads before the ban to 10 million downloads now

NEW DELHI : On 29 June, the day India banned 59 Chinese apps, Sumit Ghosh, co-founder of Chingari, and his team of 20 in Bengaluru were blown away by the spike in downloads of their social media app. With 100,000 downloads every hour, Chingari added 2 million new downloads over the next two days.

Chingari, an Indian short-video app like TikTok, has gone from 2.5 million downloads before the ban to 10 million downloads now.

“On 30 June we started experiencing issues like slow load time due to heavy traffic. We had to shut down some slow queries and optimize it at the application level. We have been working 24/7 with AWS (Amazon Web Services) teams to scale and keep the load under control and the application stable," said Ghosh, chief product officer at Chingari.

The surprise ban on apps like TikTok, Likee and Bigo has created a vacuum for millions of millennial creators and users, leading many to turn to homegrown apps like Roposo, ShareChat and Mitron.

Roposo, which was seeing 700,000 downloads a day before the ban, is now experiencing 600,000 downloads per hour, and has hit 75 million downloads. Mitron has been drawing over 40 million video views every hour.

This, in turn, has prompted a rush for engineering upgrades and innovation by Indian apps.

“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 (UX).

“Indian app design has not been up to scratch, though there are some exceptions. The problem with Indian apps is that their developers’ focus is 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.

Developers are aware of this and are working on improving the interface. “We will be expanding our team and hire UX designers to give the interface a modern look and feel," said 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. Mitron has already received seed funding of 2 crore from 3One4 Capital and LetsVenture. 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.

Privacy—a problem with Chinese apps—is another area where most social media platforms have drawn a lot of flak. This is also an area that Indian apps are working overtime on. Chingari’s Ghosh said that all user data on the platform is stored securely on servers in India. “We have created a very detailed privacy policy. We are using VPN-based logins and firewalls on server levels."

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