TikTok: On 29 June 2020, when India’s Ministry of Telecom and Information Technology banned as many as 59 Chinese apps citing national security concerns. Few out of the more than 610 million users of Chinese app Tik Tok in India knew the bitter irony that Tik Tok is ‘not available’ or ‘banned’ in its own country of origin, China.
Cumulatively, as per the app download estimator ‘Sensor Tower’. The 59 banned apps lost roughly a record 4.9 billion downloads in India since January 2014. Tik Tok, owned by the Chinese firm Byte Dance is meant for audiences outside China.
Problems With TikTOk
The Chinese version of Tik Tok available in China named ‘Douyin’ and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Government ensures that it must receive every detail of every user who has been downloading Douyin.
India’s giant market, where half of the country’s 1.3 billion citizens have access to the internet, has been a great lure for Chinese companies. However, while Chinese telecommunication companies have been performing profitable economic enterprise in India,
‘some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms’ as per the Government of India, are ‘stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data. Considering the threats posed by such applications to the country’s sovereignty and security, the
Government zeroed in on erecting a digital wall explicitly restricting the entry of adversaries into Indian cyberspace. The newly carved digital wall has ensured that Chinese tech giants like Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu, and ByeDance do not have access to crucial data of Indians. Significantly, governments worldwide are trying to reclaim the digital space inside their physical boundary.
European Union, in recent times, forced Google and Apple to adapt to local rules. China itself carved a digital boundary restricting the access of global cyber players from entering its cyberspace years ago. Google, Facebook, and Twitter cannot operate from Chinese cyberspace. Which allowed a controlled environment to home-grown players who are flourishing in the local markets and promoted by the Chinese government. They have been going abroad to earn foreign capital.
The CCP refused entry of global social media outlets into Chinese territory because as a surveillance state. It propelled by the desire to keep an eye on the online activities of domestic citizens.
China banned telecast of National Basketball Association’s events since October 2019, when Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets, shared an image on Twitter that showed support for the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
In December 2018, when Meng Wenzhou, the daughter of Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei, arrested in Canada for financial wrongdoing. China retaliated by arresting nearly 100 Canadian including a couple of Canadian diplomats on false charges and stopped the shipments of Canadian Canola oil.
Not only this, in 2010, when the Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize committee awarded the Nobel peace prize to Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese dissident. For his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China, the CCP government stopped importing Norwegian salmon.
Opportunities for Indian
Start-ups In today’s world, internet affiliated services are essential components of life. As per estimation by International Telecommunication Union, as of April 2020. There are 4.57 billion internet users all over the world. Every day 500 million tweets are tweeted from 320 million users. Facebook has 2.5 billion users while Youtube has two billion active users. In 2018, WhatsApp users alone used to send 65 billion messages per day. The Facebook ‘Like’ button is pressed 1.13 trillion times per day. The world is doing every single transaction over the web and social media has been sucking a significant amount of daily time from every citizen.
The banned Chinese apps used to cater to a wide range of needs in the area of telecommunications and social media. Those banned apps used to provide services in the vast expanse of internet browser, file sharing, chatting, shopping, micro blogging, video sharing, photo editing, news, games, multiple accounts, mailing, scanning, maps, translation and mobile themes, which are becoming part and parcel of daily life.
TikTok Alternatives In India
- Mitron TV – Indian Tiktok App
- Chingari – The Indian Made App
- Vigo Video
Among the 59 apps, TikTok was the most popular ever since its launch in 2017. With an estimated 610 million viewers India accounted for 30% of TikTok’s 2 billion downloads worldwide so far. Considering the massive infiltration of social media in the daily life of Indians. The blocking of Chinese apps is a godsend opportunity for local start-ups as it allows them the opportunity to cater to the demands. Which are already available and users are eager to contribute to the growth story of new companies.
Within 48 hours of the TikTok ban, its Indian version Roposo received 22 million new users. Not with standing complaints about high data usage, low video quality, and other issues. Mitron and Bolo India are other alternative platforms developed by Indian companies. Users of Indian apps complain generally about bad user interface, bad filters, high crashing frequency, high data usage, and low video quality. Users of Roposo criticize the app by saying it is so complicated that it requires a tutorial for learning it. The low cost of Chinese products and economies of scale has always offered great advantages to Chinese firms.
The Chinese companies since long have been able to provide products at a cheaper cost and improve the performance of the product at a competitive price. To take advantage of the void created by banned Chinese apps, Indian developers have to ensure the same quality. This will necessitate collaborations with tech giants.
Scope For Indian Developers
The NITI Aayog’s flagship Atal Innovation Mission and Prime Minister’s scheme. Provide up to 1 crore loans in 59 minutes under the Medium. Small and Micro Enterprises sector are some of the hand holding policies of Government of India. Which encourages enterprising startups in the country.
However, innovations in the field of technology and social media in the country need to be encouraged. Adequate incentives to the booming talent pool in educational institutions and outside. Industry and institution collaboration may bridge this gap and now is the time.
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