The ban on 59 Chinese apps seems to have resulted in an enthusiastic and opportunistic response from Indian app developers as they rush to fill in the void left by the banned app, many of which were highly depended upon by Indians from all walks of life, from school-going children to professionals. The Government of India banned the ap ps seemingly as a response to increased tensions and clashes at the Indo-Chinese border, which included Chinese soldiers trespassing onto Indian Territory.
Ap p like CamScanner and ShareIt have given rise to scores of ‘local’ versions, such as Kaagaz Scanner, Share Karo, Share India, Bharat Scanner etc, with Kaagaz Scanner amassing over 5 lakh downloads. A big and noticeable marketing tactic seems to be flaunting the various ap p’ ‘Made in India’ status, with Tricolour logos and references to the motherland becoming a common sight in the App and Google Play Store.
Prajjwal Sinha, the founder of KnickheadSoftwares, said, “Our Indian roots are the only reason we’ve managed to get over 150,000 installs for our app Bharat Scanner in less than a month of launching on Play Store.” Search trends on the Google Play Store all point towards a growing shift in demand towards domestic versions of Chinese apps, even if those versions are less functional. Phrases such as “short video app made in India”, “file transfer Indian app”, “browser app for android Indian”, “file scanner Indian app”, “news aggregator India” show up among the top five popular searches in these categories.
This is no more evident than by the story of Paper Scanner, launched by Kundan Singh on June 18 because he had a feeling that CamScanner was going to be banned in the country very soon. For the first few weeks, his app barely fetched 10-12 downloads per day. But, once his boss at his day job gave him the suggestion to rebrand the app, pushing its Indian origin, demand skyrocketed, and he currently gets around 4000 downloads per day.
Even TikTok has an alternative now, called ‘Mitron’. Most of these apps are developed by lower-to-middle class developers in Tier 3 cities and towns. These developers face their own struggles, the pressure to compete with their Chinese counterparts despite a significant difference in manpower, resources and backing. Though some investors and accelerators are slowly recognising the potential behind these projects, they also remain wary of investing based on what could be temporary bumps in popularity or a temporary change in government policy.