India’s ban on Chinese app; a look at affected apps


With increasing Anti-China sentiment in India due to border disputes, an Indian company called OneTouchAppLabs has created an app called “RemoveChineseApps” that scans and detects apps on Android phones with links to China, and gives user the choice to delete Chinese apps(NakedSecurity). However, it was removed by Google on Google Play Store 2 weeks after its launch.

But following up on the latest skirmish that took place in June 2020 between Indian and Chinese soldiers at the border of Ladakh which led to casualties of soldiers on both sides, the Indian government took strict measures by not only increasing military presence in the affected region (IndianExpress), but also beginning to identify privacy issues concerning China’s rising soft power in India.

The Indian government has recognized that Chinese apps were used as spyware or even malware and were in clear violation of the terms of usage, compromising a user’s privacy. Therefore, as a national threat over security and privacy concerns, the Indian Government has banned more than 60 Chinese apps, including some of the most popular ones such as Tik Tok, and WeChat (AndroidAuthority).

Banned Chinese Apps

If monthly active users are any indication of how some of these 60 apps are performing currently, it can be said that they have been hit hard since the ban came into effect on Google Play Store at the end of June.

For instance, TikTok having a large number of users in India, has seen a dramatic fall in its app usage. According to IndianExpress, TikTok completely stopped working after ban came in to effect. Moreover, TikTok is set to lose $6 billion with the loss of share in the Indian market (Forbes).

Looking at the DAU data from the above graph taken from App Ape, TikTok, loved by approximately 50 million daily users right until its ban, has lost as much as 90% of its users in just under 4 days.

The very same thing applies to other Chinese apps as well, as seen above.

Apps such as WeChat owned by Tencent Holdings – a very popular messaging app in south east asian countries – is also seeing a rapid decrease in its user base in India. Other apps such as CamScanner – a file scanning app, UC browser – a web browser owned by Alibaba Group Holdings, ShareIt – an extremely popular file sharing app, are all apps which have been used by millions of users in India over the past few years which now are under scrutiny (Nikkei Asian Review).

Making this ban by the Indian Government, a substantial shift in tolerance towards Chinese IT companies’ presence in India. However, the issue doesn’t end with just the removal of these apps from Google Play Store. Some of these Chinese apps have been on track to be replaced by their counterparts.

Banned Chinese App Alternatives

Alternatives to Tik Tok

Chingari is an Indian alternative to TikTok that has been gaining immense traction over the past few weeks. The app has already earned millions of monthly active users. The app also supports multiple Indian languages and provides monetization options for content creators.

Roposo is another TikTok alternative, and has similar features and functionality. This app is also seeing gains in large numbers of MAU, making it a potential app to overtake TikTok’s popularity in India.

Alternative to WeChat

There are no shortage of alternate messaging apps in India that can easily replace WeChat. WhatsApp being one of the most popular app in the communication category with nearly +300 million users. Other being Facebook’s Messenger app.

Alternative to CamScanner

With privacy becoming one of the major issues with CamScanner over the past few years, many users seem to have switched to Notebloc to scan, save & share notes, sketches, drawings, and other documents. Unlike camScanner which requires purchase of license to utilize its full set of features, Notebloc is completely free to use, and looking at the MAU from the above graph, it is all set to rise in the near future.

Alternative to UC Browser

UC Browser is a popular app in India because it mostly came preinstalled on millions of Chinese phones in India and its market share was close to 10% due to this very reason. Similarly, even Google Chrome comes preinstalled on every android phone, which negates any need to install an other extra app unnecessarily. According to a Newzoo report in 2019 , there were 345 million android users in India, and according the App Ape, Google Chrome has 300 million monthly active users. Other alternative is Firefox.

Alternative to ShareIt and Xender

SHAREall is an Indian alternative to ShareIt. In principle, SHAREall’s functionality and user interface is very similar to ShareIt, which means that users who are accustomed to ShareIt can continue using this app without having to go through any learning curve. Files By Google is another alternative to shareIt.

As the data gets updated in July on App Ape, there will be more concrete idea on how these apps have been performing under the given circumstances. There will be an update on this topic after few weeks from the day of publishing this article, which will focus on Chinese app performance and trending app scenarios in India.

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