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‘Chingari’ Might Just Be The New TikTok

A Hyderabad based start-up created the app after the ban of Chinese app TikTok. The app has been downloaded by more than 10 million users as of August.

A mobile phone displaying the Chingari application.
The Chingari mobile application | Pinterest

In late June this year, Chingari, a short video sharing app had less than 25 lakh downloads on the Google Playstore. Not to be confused with another dating app with a similar logo and translated name, the app shot to fame after the decision to ban China based application TikTok was enforced in India. On release itself, the app zoomed past the 1 crore downloads mark within 72 hours. The Hyderabad based app won the #Aatmanirbhar app challenge organised by the central government and was announced as the best app in the social media category.

The call to ban 59 Chinese apps by the Government following the tense border conflicts at Ladakh and strained India-China relations inevitably caused the ban of TikTok, a China based application owned by ByteDance. The video sharing platform had taken India by storm with more that 20 million active users at its prime. People from all walks of life and of all ages started using the application to make short videos that they could then share. Chingari took where TikTok left off and the rest is history.

In an interview, one of the founders of Chingari, Sumit Ghosh spoke about why there is such a high number of users from within the state saying, “The option of creating content in 11 languages in our app has been a huge draw for vernacular users. I feel that the number of downloads soared when they found that they could express themselves in Telugu.” The founder says that the concept of the app was created in 2017 when ByteDance had just acquired TikTok. The working app was created in 2018 and was aimed at tier 1,2 and 3 cities in India. It was created keeping in mind the growing unlimited 4G data network in rural as well as urban areas. The founders said that initially, it was difficult for Chingari to gain traction and required extensive marketing. Sumit said,

“We did not have the kind of funding that TiKToK had, and hence could not spend much on marketing. Recently, we received seed funding of $1.3 million from AngelList, LogX Ventures, iSeed, Village Global and others.”

The Times Of India profiled the app as a made in India competitor to TikTok before the ban was announced. This caught the eye of Anand Mahindra, Chairman of Mahindra Group who posted a tweet about the app. The recognition was a great boost to the usership, introducing the app to a much wider audience.

The app may have gained major usership but the users weren’t too impressed by the app. Some users complained of the app being too buggy while other reviews spoke of the lack of features. Although the developers say that they have re-designed and re-branded their app, the app still seems lacking lustre to users who are used to the TikTok interface. Users also complained of the type of content on the app being the kind that sexualizes women. Lack of curation and personalization were some other features that the app lacks.

Although in its infant stages, the India-based Chingari has the potential to rival the likes of its Chinese counterpart TikTok. Smart updates to the application and inclusion of an improved user experience could spell the success of this indigenous application.


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