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Mitron app duplicates proliferate on Google Play Store amid row over origin

  • Downloaded over 5 million times since its launch in April on Google Play Store, Mitron now draws flak for duplication
  • Several apps with similar looking M letter as logo with almost identical colour combination have surfaced on the Play Store

After Chinese app TikTok faced backlash, where it saw its ratings on Google Play Store plummet to 1.2 last month, millennials in India make a beeline for another short form video app, Mitron.

Downloaded over 5 million times since its launch in April on Google Play Store, the app has now become the subject of duplication.

Several apps with similar looking 'M' letter as logo with almost identical colour combination have surfaced on the Play Store in the last few days. A few are named Mitron, like the original, while others are Mitron Messenger, Mitron Funny Videos, or Mitron TV.

The original app's publisher name is Mitron TV and the only reliable way to identify it is through its number of downloads.

None of the duplicates are even close to the 5 million downloads of the original. A duplicate named Mitron Funny Videos has over 100,000 downloads, while Mitron Messenger has 10,000.

Duplicate or fake apps are rampant on Play Store. Though Google has a strict vetting process for harmful apps, but is yet to rein in the duplicate ones.

In many cases, duplicate apps come into action even before the launch of an app or game. Days before PUBG Mobile was set to hit the Play Store, over 100 duplicates had surfaced.

Similarly, after the roll out of Whatsapp for Business, several fake versions showed up on Play Store. Many users even reportedly fell for a fake WhatsApp Gold edition app expecting extra features.

Usually the objective behind many duplicate apps is to cash on heightened interests in the original apps and harvest user data. The more nefarious ones can even infect the Android device.

The fake app business has been estimated at $2.3 billion globally in the first half of 2019, according to AppsFlyer, a mobile marketing analytics firm.

While duplicate apps remains a concern, the original Mitron app is not without its share of issues. Many users have flagged the app as buggy, while experts are not satisfied with its privacy policy and feel it is hastily written. It should have more details on what data is being collected and how it is being stored.

Then there is controversy over the origin of the Mitron app. While its claim to fame is based on its Indian roots, according to a News18 report, source code for Mitron app was bought from Pakistani software company Qboxus on CodeCanyon for $34. Irfan Sheikh, founder of Qboxus feels calling Mitron as an India born app is not accurate as the owners have not made any changes to it. Qboxus has a similar short form video app called, TicTic.

The company behind Mitron app, Mitron TV Pvt Ltd, was incorporated on the website of Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) on 31 May with location as Bengaluru.

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