All these short-video platforms are looking to tap what’s estimated to be a 100-120 million daily active users market which is up for grabs, because of the ban imposed by the government on 59 Chinese apps like Bytedance’s TikTok and Helo from July 1, on account of alleged threats to the country’s “sovereignty and security”. The apps included top social media platforms along with SHAREit, UC Browser and ecommerce site Club Factory, among others. After clamping down on these Chinese companies, the Indian government issued a further order to ban 47 variants or clones of these apps. The ban includes apps such as Helo Lite, Bigo Lite and CamScanner advanced, among others.
Before the ban, TikTok had been able to rack up 600 million installs in India and the user engagement was at more than 40 minutes per day. “A combination of creator tools, a very strong technology backbone with machine learning-based personalisation and the strength of the MX brand have led to us emerging as the number one app,” Karan Bedi, CEO, MX Player told ET. Bedi said TakaTak had been able to rope in the largest number of top influencers, with the likes of Gima Ashi and Nisha Gurgain exclusively on its platform. TakaTak is owned by Times Internet portfolio company MX Player, a part of the Times Group, which also publishes this paper.
In an emailed response to ET, Dailyhunt’s Josh said it crossed 500 million video plays with an average 65 videos being played by users per day, while MX’s TakaTak said it clocked over 800 million videos played per day with an average of 95 videos, per user daily. Sharechat’s Moj declined to share specifics, saying it had registered monthly active users (MAU) of 50 million. ET could not independently verify these numbers shared by companies. “Time spent per daily active user already reached 15 minutes at a run rate level… This is expected to double in the next 45 days,” a Dailyhunt spokesperson said.
Most industry executives and investors in the sector said that user retention, however, will need to be closely monitored. This they said will be based on several aspects including the platform’s ability to lure creators, build product features and negotiate music rights. “The longevity of these new propositions would purely depend on their product quality,” said Anshu Prasher, Partner, Whiteboard Capital, an early-stage VC fund. “We are more excited by the second-order effects of this government action as we expect it to fuel a stronger consumer sentiment and acceptance towards truly Indian technology products,” Prasher added.
Retention has been a challenge for platforms which have gained early on. SimlarWeb has forecast a drop in day 30 retention to low single digits (2-6%) for short video apps including Roposo, Chingali, Zili and Dubsmash. Chinese app Snack Video was ahead in retention numbers touching 12%, data showed. In comparison, TikTok and Instagram have a retention of 25% on average after 30 days. Manish Chopra, director and head of partnerships, Facebook India told ET that videos make up for over a third of the posts on Instagram in India today. “We already work with a large number of creators… Reels has video editing tools, aspects like augmented reality effects and music library to help anyone create compelling short-form videos,” Chopra told ET.
Other players which have been able to shore up download numbers include Inmobi’s Roposo, Zili which is developed by Xiaomi, and Dubsmash based in New York.
ET reported earlier that since the ban, Roposo, Zili and Dubsmash have collectively generated 21.8 million downloads in India, reaching 13% of TikTok’s installs in the country for the first half of 2020, quoting Sensor Tower data.
“Downloads showcase interest, but retention is the true test of engagement and longevity, especially in social networks,” said an investor requesting anonymity.