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Here’s Why India Needs a “Desi” Version of WhatsApp

China does not need Facebook, WhatsApp or Twitter but in India, one cannot begin his or her day without either of the US-based apps. Amid all this is one app that has its origin in the country

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China does not need Facebook, WhatsApp or Twitter but in India, one cannot begin his or her day without either of the US-based apps. Pixabay

Last year ‘WhatsApp killer” yoga guru Ramdev’s dream ‘swadeshi’ messaging app ‘Kimbho’ was taken down from app stores owing to privacy concerns as it also failed to create any buzz.

Though launched with much fanfare from the house of Patanjali Ayurved, ‘Kimbho’ which means ‘how are you’ or ‘what’s new’ promising features such as chat, multimedia, voice and video calling, video conferencing and collaboration, Kimbho’s misadventure only left the global developers’ community laughing at us.

In a country where nearly 300 million people are on Facebook, another 400 million on WhatsApp and over 200 million on Chinese app TikTok — not to forget the millions who are hooked to Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat — there has not been a single social media platform to date with its roots in India that has created headlines globally.

Look at China. It has Weibo which is an equivalent of the micro-blogging platform Twitter; Renren which is essentially China’s Facebook; WeChat that is an avatar of WhatsApp; Baidu is their Google and Youku and Tudou are China’s YouTube. WeChat is the largest social media platform in China, with over one billion monthly active users. Rest of the apps too command user-base running in millions.

China does not need Facebook, WhatsApp or Twitter but in India, one cannot begin his or her day without either of the US-based apps. Amid all this is one app that has its origin in the country: ShareChat.

ShareChat has a user base of over 60 million monthly active users spread across the country and available in 15 languages including Hindi, Malayalam, Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi, Telugu, Tamil, Bengali, Odia, Kannada, Assamese, Haryanvi, Rajasthani, Bhojpuri and Urdu. According to Ankush Sachdeva, Co-founder and CEO, ShareChat, Indians need a platform to express themselves in its own language.

“While there have been English social media platforms that exist in the Indian ecosystem, these could hardly manage to scale beyond a certain set of users. Moreover, before ShareChat, there has been no internet platforms created for Indian users and customised as per their preferences,” Sachdeva told IANS.

The Bengaluru-based regional language social platform has become so popular that even Twitter came onboard when the four-year-old company raised $100 million in its Series D round of funding last year. “ShareChat is truly an Indian app, created for every Indian who wants to experience the Internet,” said Sachdeva.

More than 90 per cent of the next billion Internet users are expected to come from non-English background, hence platforms like ShareChat are poised for accelerated growth. According to experts, to run a messaging app like WhatsApp requires top-of-the-line IT infrastructure.

Kimbho
Last year ‘WhatsApp killer” yoga guru Ramdev’s dream ‘swadeshi’ messaging app ‘Kimbho’ was taken down from app stores owing to privacy concerns as it also failed to create any buzz. IANS

“You need a team of Open Source experts, Cloud and content delivery network (CDN) experts, data engineers, an in-house team of core developers, API developers, user interface (UI) developers, in-house testing team and user data simulation team, to run an app like WhatsApp,a said Anoop Mishra, one of the nation’s leading social media experts.

“You also need an outsourced hacking team which keeps finding loopholes in the existing system which was completely missing in ‘Kimbho’ which was a poorly-scripted app,” Mishra told IANS.

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The time is ripe to have multiple desi variants of popular social media apps — with a truly professional approach unlike the ‘Kimbho’ disaster — to keep users’ data back in the country and fight fake news and misinformation with much efficiency. (IANS)

Next Story

Weakning Demand Caused by Coronavirus Pandemic To Impact Indian Smartphone Market

Some brands like Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi, Realme, OPPO, Nokia HMD and Lava have already set up services on top of the active user base

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Some brands like Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi, Realme, OPPO, Nokia HMD and Lava have already set up services on top of the active user base. Pixabay

More than the supply concerns, weakening demand due the uncertainties brought about by the novel coronavirus is set to impact the India smartphone market the most, according to a projection by market research firm techARC.

During the calendar year 2020, demand is likely to be low particularly during the April-August period. “There can be no qualitative deterministic measurement of the impact done in this situation. There are so many uncertainties around and the situation is impacting both the supply and the demand side of the market,” said Faisal Kawoosa, Founder and Chief Analyst, techARC.

“We expect supply chain to resume in June in India. Thus April and May will be the worst affected months in terms of shipments, be it out of China or in India,” Kawoosa added. What is more worrying is the weakening demand as consumers are now focusing on spending their money only on essentials like food and medicine.

“Only those requiring a smartphone in case of breakdown will be the primary buyers. The elective upgrades and replacements will be at minimal,” said Kawoosa. Supply, including the channels (offline as well as online) should be back to normal in September. This will be fundamentally triggered by ground-up to festive season.

Smartphone
More than the supply concerns, weakening demand due the uncertainties brought about by the novel coronavirus is set to impact the India smartphone market the most, according to a projection by market research firm techARC. Pixabay

But even during the October-December quarter, demand could be lukewarm due to the the macro-economic scenario by then as well as fear of the viral infection resurfacing towards the winter. “Only if, there would be a vaccination available by then at mass scale, the market could see revival, but not at the normal levels,” Kawoosa said, adding that the smartphone industry will have to look at other revenues, especially service-oriented offerings, to offset the gap which will arise due to low sales of smartphones in 2020.

Some brands like Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi, Realme, OPPO, Nokia HMD and Lava have already set up services on top of the active user base.

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“They need to further look for more paying services to narrow the gap between the potential earnings through sale of hardware and the actual revenues they can realise in 2020,” said the report. (IANS)