The ban on TikTok in the US has been delayed. Photo: CNet.

Almost two months after short format video app TikTok was banned in India in retaliation for a military clash with China, its competitors are battling among each other to win the Chinese app’s user base.

Apps like Chingari, Roposo, Rizzle Mitron and Instagram Reels are seeing a spike in downloads after the ban of TikTok on June 29, along with 58 other Chinese-owned apps.

Before the ban kicked in, India was TikTok’s biggest overseas market with more than 200 million users and its appeal cut across regional, language and class barriers.

But the field continues to be wide open and none of TikTok’s competitors have taken pole position since the ban. The Chinese app’s users have been scattered among the multiple alternatives.

Almost all the Indian apps pitched themselves as the “TikTok of India,” with the interface and functionality hardly any different from the Chinese app. Within a few weeks, the market was so crowded that the “Made in India” tag alone was not enough to win.

Most of these Indian players struggled to deliver quality to new users. In the early days after the ban, the Indian apps could not handle the load and kept crashing.

In addition, they were plagued with security flaws. A security researcher exposed flaws in Chingari, which was later fixed. Another app, Mitron, did not even have an explicit privacy policy in place during its launch in April and was taken down from Google play store. It fixed this anomaly only in June.

Influencers struggle

The ban also left TikTok’s more than 200,000 “influencers” in the lurch. Although there are many options available, nothing comes close to TikTok in terms of audience reach and monetary benefits.

Many of these influencers are still looking for the right platform, but will have to start from scratch and build a fan base before any money starts coming in. For many influencers, especially those from the lower strata of Indian society, TikTok was a lucrative income avenue.

Many also lament that their followers on TikTok are now scattered and using different apps and they will have to rebuild their audience.

Ambani factor

Meanwhile, media reports claim India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani is reportedly in talks with TikTok’s parent ByteDance to back its India business.

Market experts feel a Reliance investment would be a win-win for both. It may help TikTok get off the hook and for Reliance it would provide a push in its pivot towards a technology-driven company, from its core business of oil and petrochemicals.