Reposo Booms in India After The Chinese Service TikTok is Banned | Emerging Markets Ecommerce - EMQQ
The ban on ByteDance-owned
TikTok in India, as part of a sweeping move against 59 Chinese apps, saw ‘Made
in India’ alternatives rise to the occasion. To say TikTok is a global
sensation is an understatement, the short-video platform stopped working for
its 200 million local users in India overnight.
Within hours, an avalanche of
new sign-ups pushed the servers of one of its Bangalore-based rivals, Roposo,
to breaking point. Two weeks later, Roposo, which also offers short videos,
says it’s peaking at 500,000 new app users an hour and expects to
have 100 million users by month’s end. That’s almost double the 55 million
it had before the ban. In terms of growth in absolute downloads, Roposo,
whose downloads increased from 5.5 Mn in the prior period, to 13.3 Mn in the
three weeks since the ban, experienced a growth of 142%. Roposo is owned
by InMobi a private company and a venture capital unicorn .
Roposo, which was
India’s first social network app, claimed 42 million users at the time
it was acquired by Glance in November 2019, an arm of InMobi. For Naveen
Tewari, CEO of InMobi the synergies were obvious. Glance, which had raised $45
million from Peter Thiel’s Mithril Capital shortly before the Roposo deal,
delivers personalized content on the locked mode screens of smartphones.
“Majority of Android phones use our technology,” says Tewari. Roposo would
bring to Glance additional content, its community of creators and influencers,
and an experienced team. Glance, in turn, would further the reach of Roposo’s
videos given its massive scale. “With more than 100 million daily active Glance
users, content created on Roposo naturally flows into Glance and creates a
flywheel effect,” says Tewari .
Roposo’s video technology,
including its camera and creation tool, painstakingly built and refined over
the years, is a strong differentiator. Moreover, because of the synergies
between Roposo and Glance, says Tewari, “you can go from being a star to a
superstar. Our ability to make money for our creators is very high”. Content
creators on Roposo get paid in redeemable points for every view of their
videos, as opposed to TikTok, where users monetized their content through brand
has a viable chance to become the world's 4th largest technology hub after the
U.S., China, and Russia. The Indian government’s ban, which covered other
big Chinese names such as UC Web mobile browser and WeChat messaging app,
followed a border conflict between India and China. India
cited privacy and security concerns, but the restrictions have dramatically
altered the competitive landscape in the nation’s digital economy .
give local firms a fighting chance at winning a larger chunk of the countries
more than half-a-billion internet users. They could even pave the way for some
Indian firms to compete more aggressively with global giants such
as Amazon and Facebook.
Reinforcing the new
hard-line, the Indian government has also asked Chinese companies such as
ByteDance, which owns TikTok, to answer 77 questions about their apps,
including whether they censored content, worked on behalf of foreign
governments or lobbied influencers.
Technology Ministry has given the companies three weeks to respond to the
questionnaire and said unspecified follow-up action would be taken, two sources
The banned apps were asked
whether they acted at the behest of any foreign government to edit, promote, or
demote any content. One theme of the questionnaire was whether the content was
censored after an attack last year carried out by a Pakistan-based militant
group in Pulwama district in Kashmir. The attack killed at least 40 Indian
police officers and heightened tensions between India and Pakistan .
“In the aftermath of the
Pulwama Attack of 2019, did the company/app censor content relating to the
attack or its perpetrators?” the question reads. TikTok said it was
working to respond to the ministry’s queries and that it complied with all
Indian laws, adding that users’ data security and privacy were its top
A source familiar with the
government’s thinking said the queries were in line with federal procedures and
the same questions were sent to all affected companies. One question seeks
to investigate if company executives in India communicated with film stars,
social media influencers or journalists to promote any content, even if the
communication was not for commercial purposes. Other queries were around
advertisers, business structures, taxation practices and privacy policies, the
document showed .
Meanwhile, Roposo, backed by the SoftBank-funded
InMobi, presently has the funds it needs to grow, says Tewari. Instagram too
has the deep pockets of Facebook to fall back on.
Second, to succeed in this business,
platforms need a strong community of creators. Insiders cite the
importance of the “network effect” where more creators lead to more content,
which leads to more users. More users, in turn, demand more content, which
spawns more creators. Virality is crucial for such businesses. Only then will
you see an avalanche of users.
Put another way, creators will be attracted to platforms that
are able to bring them fame by way of a number of views, and brand associations
or redeemable cash rewards. Users on the other hand, fickle as they are, will
be glued to platforms that offer quality content, and provide engagement by way
of campaigns or competitions.
Third, technology is the key to success. TikTok’s personalized
recommendation algorithm kept users hooked, says Lunia. For any platform to
replicate that its machine-learning and artificial intelligence capabilities
need to be on point.
other categories have also received a windfall after other Chinese names like
popular image scanner CamScanner were also blocked. The new contenders from a
variety of categories have three themes in common. Their apps are made in
India. Their data is stored in India. Their content, mainly in regional
languages, is attuned to local sensibilities.
followers of an Indian spiritual guru, Sri Sri Ravishankar, created Elyments,
an all-in-one rival for WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram. Asia’s richest man
Mukesh Ambani, of the Reliance conglomerate, launched JioMeet, a video
conferencing rival to the popular San Jose-based Zoom.
itself is getting a deluge of influencer marketing agencies and celebrities
wanting to come aboard. It’s discussing contracts with celebrity users and
content creators. It’s investing in-camera filters and Indian themes.
an opportunity just for entrepreneurs,” said Tewari. “Investors ought to be
rushing over.” 
political dispute remains embroiled in a tussle that has assumed
nationalist overtones and is unlikely to get settled anytime soon. Luck,
as it were, is another component for success.
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