But the world came crashing down for TikTok only in India as it still is the most downloaded app in the world. No TikTok in its biggest market meant other apps saw a window of opportunity. Google, Facebook and a lot of homegrown apps aimed to take TikTok’s place in 2020.
The desi TikTok clones
Playing the nationalism card can sometimes yield — even if really short-term — results for apps or brands. That’s what Indian app developers did when TikTok was banned. Of all the TikTok clones launched, it was Mitron that first caught the eye for wrong and right reasons. Mitron was first banned by Google from the Play Store for violating its policies but eventually made a comeback. In the first two months, the app claimed it had seen close to 17 million downloads. But Mitron, as per a research done by RedSeer consulting isn’t amongst the top used home grown TikTok clone app.
As per RedSeer, the most popular ‘desi’ TikTok rival app is Dailyhunt’s Josh, followed by MX Takatak (which is owned by Times Internet) and InMobi’s Roposo. Indian made apps like Chingari and Mitron are amongst the least popular, as per the survey done by RedSeer.
Since the ban on TikTok, Indians have been spending less time on short video apps, according to RedSeer. Indians had spent 165 billion minutes on such apps in June 2019 and TikTok accounted for 90% of the share. In October, the amount of time spent on these apps had come down to 80 billion minutes. Domestic apps accounted for 67% of the total time spent by users.
TikTok cloning: A global phenomenon
It’s not just in India where there was a mad rush to replace TikTok. The Bytedance-owned app has been having trouble in the US as well. Facebook wanted to capitalise on it and launched a feature called Reels. The feature was launched in India much before other countries and is very much like TikTok. Facebook since the launch of Reels has been make a dedicated effort to make Reels as mainstream as possible.
Google too wanted a slice of the pie and launched a new service called YouTube Shorts. A beta version of YouTube Shorts was launched in India in September 2020. Google at the time of the roll out of Shorts, said that it’s “a new short-form video experience right on YouTube for creators and artists who want to shoot short, catchy videos using nothing but their mobile phones.”
Facebook wasn’t the only one as several me-too TikTok apps popped up in the US. These included Byte, Triller, Zynn, Clash to name a few. Yet, TikTok remained the most downloaded app in the world, as per a report by App Annie. While these apps did have their moment in sunshine, none came close to matching TikTok’s popularity.
2020 will perhaps be remembered as the year when almost every app wanted to be like TikTok but not many came close to matching its popularity.