Last year, the Government of India banned 59 Chinese apps, including the most popular Tik-Tok and PubG, saying they posed danger to the security and sovereignty of the nation.
It said the apps were “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of state and public order”, in a statement. India’s action against the Chinese apps came after tensions escalated at the borders in Ladakh.
Besides Tik-Tok and PubG, WeChat, a messaging app similar to WhatsApp, was also on the list of apps now banned in India. The ban also provided domestic app developers with an opportunity to develop platforms similar to the popular Chinese ones.
Tik-Tok, arguably the most popular app in rural India, allowed users to share 15-second videos of their performances and lip-sync on popular trends and dialogues. The company later extended the limit to 60 seconds.
Following the ban, several locally developed apps such as Josh, Mitron, Moj and MX Taka Tak tried to fill the void left by Tik-Tok, which at its peak had 119 million users only in India. It was roughly at this time that Instagram added another feature — Reels — to its platform and many Tik-Tokers shifted to it.
In January 2021, Moj announced that it took the app only six months to cross the 100-million-download mark on Google Play Store, adding it was the fastest short-video platform to reach this milestone.
“Besides a slew of advanced features, the Moj app empowers its community of users with powerful creation tools, backed by robust editing capabilities, a vast music library, camera filters, and special effects for users to create highly engaging and fun original content,” the company said in a statement.
PUBG, which had at least 50 million users per month, redefined the gaming culture in India. Soon after it was added to the list of banned Chinese apps, Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar took to Twitter and announced the alternative, FAUG. Launched finally on January 26, FAUG saw 3 lakh downloads within 24 hours, according to a report.
However, many users suggested the game needed better and additional graphics and presentation.
Under WhatsApp’s new policy, the users had the options of either agreeing to share their personal information with Facebook or delete the account.
Even Elon Musk tweeted and encouraged people to move to Signal, an app extremely focussed on the importance of privacy and has been rated the best among the encrypted messaging apps. As of January 2021, it had over 105 million downloads, but it was still nowhere close to replacing WhatsApp.