TikTok, Helo, SHAREit losing mojo in India after border clash with China

Topics TikTok | Helo | SHAREit

According to the data from mobile marketing intelligence company SensorTower, the ranking of TikTok, a leading destination for short-form video, has fallen from 3 amongst free apps on 1 April to 11 on 23 June, based on Google Play trends.
They were once the hottest online properties in India. But today, such popular apps as TikTok, Helo, SHAREit  and UC Browser — all produced by Chinese tech companies — are suddenly losing their lustre amongst Indian consumers.

The bloody clash between Indian and Chinese troops in Ladakh last week has sparked a popular demand for the shunning of Chinese products, ranging from apps to mobile phones. The result: The rankings of popular Chinese apps in India have seen a steep slide.  

According to the data from mobile marketing intelligence company SensorTower, the ranking of TikTok, a leading destination for short-form video, has fallen from 3 amongst free apps on 1 April to 11  on 23 June, based on Google Play trends, a week after the border clash in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed.
TikTok has over 200 million subscribers in India and the country is its second largest market after China in terms of downloads. But Indian competitors are gaining in upon it now. Mitron, a relatively new video sharing application, has seen its ranking in terms of downloads zoom from 424 on 1 May to 3 on 22 June. It came under scrutiny for alleged Pakistani links and Google, too, suspended it temporarily from its Play Store owing to some guideline issues. However, it has been back up since early this month and seems to have become the desi answer to the Chinese TikTok.  

Zee, too, is planning to take on TikTok with its own version called HiPi.

Other Chinese online products are also losing appeal amongst Indians. The ranking of Alibaba owned UC Browser, which has over 130 million monthly active users in India (out of 430 million worldwide) has fallen from 39 to 79 between April and now. SHAREit, which allows users to share files between devices, and is available in multiple languages, also witnessed a steep fall in its ranking, going down from 15 to 49 in the same period. 

Similarly, Helo, a social media platform with over 50 million customers in India, and available in 15 Indian languages, including Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, also saw its ranking fall from rank 9 to 29. Bytedance, which owns the TikTok and Helo brands, declined to comment. There were no comments from UC Browser either.  TikTok added that they do not comment on third-party data.

Interestingly, in May, a developer came out with a Remove China app to help Indians erase their Chinese apps in no time. The app garnered  5 million downloads on Google App Store before being pulled out by the store.

The story is quite different in the mobile device space, however. Many Chinese mobile players are going ahead with their mega launches scheduled for this year. Realme is planning to launch as many as 15 new phones and internet of things (IoT) products in the next six months. And tomorrow, it will showcase the X3, a new mobile device offering, through a virtual launch. Last Thursday’s launch of One Plus 8 Pro saw the model selling out within minutes on Amazon India. And this was right in the midst of calls for the boycotting of Chinese products. Analysts say that with the lifting of the lockdown, a large pent-up demand for mobile devices is being seen, but customers have limited choice if they want to avoid Chinese phones.

After all, big Chinese brands like Xioami, Oppo, Vivo, Realme control 73 per cent of the market share (according to Counterpoint Research data in the January to March quarter of 2020). “Home-grown mobile players are minuscule and the rest is between Samsung and Apple, which is in the top end. So there is no choice,” said one analyst.

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