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On June 29, India suddenly banned TikTok. Almost overnight, 200 million in India suddenly needed to learn to live without an app once described as “the last sunny corner of the internet.”
Within a week of the ban, India has witnessed homegrown alternatives trying hard to fill in the absence of Tiktok.
Will they succeed?
- It purely depends on how late Tiktok returns to India.Will it take too long for Tiktok’s return to India? Answer is simple ‘NOT TOO LONG’
- Leave alone Tiktok ( Bytedance ), any company specially an app which has become part of daily lives of millions of Indians and backed by investors like Softbank, General Atlantic would make all efforts to quickly reclaim its largest market in the world.
- Tiktok does not need to put in any hard efforts to get sold, given its popularity among all age groups, continued rapid growth, existing user base and the huge untapped market, it certainly is a gold mine for its next owner, and there is a lot of speculation about its new Indian owner.
- Having seen the way Reliance is aggressively attracting investments from the giants like Facebook, Google and looking at its acquisition spree to become India’s answer to BAT ( Baidu, Alibaba & Tencent ) companies, Tiktok is going to be the sharpest weapon in its arsenal, if the transaction materializes.
- Apart from the real business opportunities / interests Facebook & Google got a shield in India permanently, by investing in India’s largest business house.
- The biggest concern of Tiktok is data privacy or the information of Indian citizens being shared with another country. With a new Indian owner (that too if it is Reliance as speculated) that biggest concern would be buried once for all.
Now coming back to the homegrown Indian alternatives to Tiktok
- Any one of them can make their users spend on average of 38 minutes, like Tiktok did.
- Will they be able to attract large pool of content creators to their platforms?
- Will followers shift to new platforms along with their influencers (Content creators)?
- Can they make UI & UX as good as Tiktok’s?
- Will they be able to build a recommendation engine as good as Tiktok?
- Will they able to design a rich selection of filters as Tiktok has?
- Most importantly will they be able to match with the monetization strategy like Tiktok has? Tiktok made $317K gross revenue from in-app purchases in India in the six weeks leading up to the ban, according to analytics firm Sensor Tower.
- And the biggest challenge is content moderation, having a strong workforce of 2000 people in India, Tiktok was caught for content-related issues earlier and banned once already, are the homegrown apps really ready for this biggest challenge?
All the above will take a lot of time, need a lot of money, human resources, and a long term strategy, but do they really have so much time? Only time can answer, but if Tiktok returns with a change of guard, there is no doubt that it would go super aggressive in India and leave no room for any.