In late June 2020, India banned 59 Chinese apps, including TikTok, giving a huge boost to national platforms. One of these is Roposo, which has been accumulating up to 500,000 new users per hour since the blockade of its Chinese rival.
The Chinese TikTok, specialized in the publication of short videos, stopped working in India for 200 million users. In a couple of hours after its blockade, an avalanche of new registrations pushed Roposo’s servers to the limit.
Two weeks later, Roposo claims to have reached up to 500,000 new users per hour and hopes to accumulate a total of 100 million by the end of this month. This number almost doubles the 55 million users who used this app before the TikTok ban.
An advantage Roposo has over its Chinese rival is that it contains videos with Bollywood movements and music, it makes humour without obscenities, jokes and jokes about the pandemic. According to Naveen Tewari, founder of the startup behind Roposo, it is the application that you will not be ashamed to teach your mother.
TikTok, in turn, has faced censorship by courts, feminist groups, users and governments for publishing content deemed sexually explicit or for displaying incidents such as acid attacks on women.
In a June 30 statement, TikTok reported that it had been invited to a meeting with Indian Government stakeholders to offer clarification and that the application has and will continue to comply with the security and privacy requirements in accordance with the legislation of India.
In the past, the Chinese app has emphasized its efforts to moderate content, noting that its policies do not allow videos that endanger people’s safety, promote physical harm, or glorify violence against women. Earlier this year, she suspended the account of a prominent content creator for posting a video simulating an acid attack.
Meanwhile, Roposo and other national TikTok competitors present their platforms as sources of entertainment in keeping with India’s relatively conservative culture.
A good opportunity for national platforms
Along with TikTok, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government decided to block other major Chinese services, such as the UC Browser mobile browser and the WeChat messaging application.
While India decided to adopt this measure under the guise of being concerned about privacy and cybersecurity, its restrictions are capable of dramatically altering the competitive landscape in the nation’s digital industry.
In particular, the blocking of Chinese applications offers Indian companies the possibility of taking over a large part of the more than 500 million Internet users in this Asian country. Some of the national companies could even pave the way to compete more aggressively with giants like Amazon and Facebook, who are also looking to benefit from one of the biggest digital trends of the moment.
“We have a real opportunity to become the fourth technology center in the world after the US, China and Russia,” said Naveen Tewari.
In turn, the chief analyst at the American consulting firm Gartner, Manjunath Bhat, pointed out that entrepreneurs in India had never lacked talent, but rather an ambition. And now it seems that they have it in abundance.
“The combined effect caused by the closure due to the coronavirus and the ban on Chinese applications presents an unprecedented opportunity,” he stressed.
Other options to choose
Currently, most of the apps in India lacks the sophistication and user-friendly interface that TikTok enjoys. Nor does it have the hunger to invest and the succulent capital of the Bytedance company. This parent of the Chinese social network was recognized as the most valuable startup in the world and was valued at more than $ 100 billion in May 2020.
In addition to Roposo, Indian apps like Chingari ( sparkle), Mitron (which means friends ), and Bolo Indya ( tell me, India), have seen a huge flow of users since the ban on Chinese apps.
Sumit Ghosh, the co-founder of Chingari, claims that many Chinese short video apps have content designed to get attention and go viral among its users.
“Instead, our algorithms are built in such a way that they guarantee that garbage will never be a trend in Chingari,” said Ghosh.
The videos uploaded to this platform are slowly sent to users so that the moderators can check if they contain offensive content. If some users complain about something, the videos are removed from Chingari.
Ghosh and another co-founder of this social network started building it just over a year ago when data consumption began to grow exponentially in India. Chingari, which had 3.5 million users the day Chinese apps were banned, surpassed 17.5 million later.
Influencers switch to Roposo
Meanwhile, TikTok influencers flock to Ghosh’s Twitter account to ask him to be granted verified user status in Chingari.
One of them is Trisha Girdhar, a 22-year-old girl who records videos dancing belly dance. Now, the woman is doing her best to convince her clients – other influencers – to move to Roposo. Before the blockade, the Chinese social network had helped her generate most of her profits.
As a result, marketing agencies run by influencers and celebrities are sending avalanches of requests to Roposo wanting to get on the platform. In fact, the app is already negotiating contracts with celebrities and content creators and investing in filters for taking photos and video and Indian themes.
“This is not just an opportunity for entrepreneurs. Investors should flock,” Tewari said, quoted by the Bloomberg agency.