App Wars: Desi TikToks – Roposo, Mitron, Chingari – have a long way to go

Users spent far more time on TikTok than on local appsUsers spent far more time on TikTok than on local apps

After the June 29 ban on Chinese apps like TikTok, several local wannabes have reported impressive downloads of their products. Roposo, for instance, said it had 100 million downloads, Trell said it had 45 million, Mitron 25 million, Chingari 15 million and Moj had 5.3 million.

While this is impressive, it is still not a patch on TikTok, though, to be fair to the local substitutes, it is early days yet and it takes time for users to switch loyalties. But, at its peak, according to SensorTower, TikTok had a total of 2 billion downloads, of which 500 million were from India.

What matters, though, is not downloads, but the actual use of the app. According to ComScore data for India, TikTok had 145 million unique visitors per month between January and May 2020. Likee, another Chinese app, had 30 million users, while Sharechat had 18 million and Roposo just 1.6 million. Comscore data for the post-ban period is not available as yet.

Kalagato has data for the time spent per app as well as a proxy for the user-base, both for the pre-ban period (May 11) as well as after the ban (July 4). Comparisons cannot be made across databases, though, as they compile data differently. In the pre-ban period, according to Kalagato, 42.5% of smartphone users had downloaded TikTok (see graphic) versus 15.4% for Sharechat, 1% for Roposo, 0.2% for Mitron and nothing for Chingari.

On July 4, after the ban, TikTok was still there on 10.6% of phones (users can still use the app using a VPN) while Sharechat was roughly the same at 15%, Roposo jumped to 6.5%, Chingari to 4.2%, and Mitron to 3.3%.

In terms of the time spent on these apps, Kalagato data shows users spent 52 minutes in a day on TikTok before the ban, and this was 10.2 minutes for Roposo, 9.4 minutes for Sharechat and 3 minutes for Mitron.

After the ban, TikTok usage fell to 6.8 minutes a day while Roposo rose to 14.5 minutes, Sharechat to 22.1 minutes, Mitron to 7.7 minutes and 5.3 minutes for Chingari. So, at least till now, the desi TikToks don’t have as many users at TikTok had at its peak — even collectively — and users are spending a lot less time on them.

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