Following the ban of 59 Chinese apps including Bytedance's TikTok and Helo, the Indian government has banned 47 more Chinese apps. According to news agency ANI, the list of banned apps include TikTok Lite, Helo Lite, SHAREit Lite, BIGO Lite, and VFY Lite. These are primarily the variants of the apps banned last month and are reported to have violated data and privacy issues. These apps are not available for download on PlayStore in India.
"Although the decision is based on the fact the new apps are the clones of the previously banned apps, we believe that this signals a strong intent from the Indian government point of view on their stand about data security and privacy. This will surely open up a lot of discussion about other apps as well. The uncertainty will continue to remain for some apps and will further escalate talks about the country of origin especially on anti-china sentiments," says Tarun Pathak, Associate Director, Counterpoint Research.
India is the second-largest smartphone market in the world. According to Statista, over 19 billion mobile apps were downloaded in the country in 2019, as compared to over six billion in 2016.
"In itself, the ban is neither unique nor surprising. India is not the only country who is thinking on these lines. It is a global trend where countries are becoming more careful of safeguarding their citizens' data. Different countries adopt different mechanisms. There is no to-do manual on protecting citizen's personal data. We await the Personal Data Protection Bill to become law and understand what other safeguards the Government wants to put in place for protecting personal data of Indian citizens," says Sajai Singh, Partner at J Sagar Associates.
Days after the ban, Meity-NITI launched Digital India AatmaNirbhar Bharat App Innovation Challenge for Indian tech entrepreneurs and start-ups. The objective is to support and build a strong ecosystem for Indian Apps and help realise the vision of Prime Minister for building a Digital India and using Digital Technologies for building an AatmaNirbhar Bharat. This App Innovation Challenge includes the promotion of existing apps as well as the development of new apps. Categorised into two tracks, the Track 1 Innovation Challenge will identify the best Indian Apps that are already being used by citizens and have the potential to scale and become world-class apps in their respective categories. The challenge for the already existing apps was categorised in eigth broad categories including office productivity and work from home, social networking, e-learning, entertainment, health and wellness, business including agritech and fintech, news and games.
Indian app developers are delighted with the new developments around the ban as well as the app challenge introduced by the government. "The Chinese apps were catering to a need and the ban creates a void that can be filled with alternative apps both Indian and others. The sentiments favour Indian apps and therefore it is a good time to be an app owner in this space specifically owing to our population size. What needs to be seen is the monetisation aspect as the Chinese apps either had deep pockets or had created a monetisation model to cater to the costs. This is where new apps will struggle," says Ankit Chaudhari, Co Founder, Aiisma - a hyper-local social platform which creates opportunities for influencers to recreate brand content.
A couple of months ago, DoT had banned Netherlands-based WeTransfer, citing national interest and public interest as the reasons for banning the website.