In recent months, there has been a tussle between the social media platform Twitter and the Indian government over the refusal of the company to bring down some specific accounts.
And even during this period, there has been a sudden attention to an app for a very similar Indian social network company and a senior executive of the firm described the attention as “overwhelming.”
Mayank Bidawatka, co-founder of Koo, said: “It feels like … you’ve just been put in the finals of the World Cup suddenly and everyone’s watching you and the team”.
According to the app analytics firm Sensor Tower, the app Koo has been downloaded 3.3 million times so far this year with the app being touted by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and is being used enthusiastically by a number of government officials and ministries in the Indian government. That marks a very good beginning for a company that was formed less than year back. That downloading number was however lower than the 4.2 million downloads in the same period for Twitter’s app in India.
But in the month of February when the United States based Twitter was in a tussle with the Indian government which had accused the company of not doing enough to block certain accounts pointed out the government, the Indian social network app was downloaded more than Twitter. Koo has a bird logo familiar to any Twitter user. The Indian government had implored Twitter to take down certain specific accounts which , according to the government , contained “incendiary and baseless” hashtags linked to the protest by farmers against new agricultural laws.
“We’re building as fast as we can,” Bidawatka said.
Pressure on global tech companies have been steadily increased by the Modi government over the past couple of years. Stringent regulations to manage social media apps like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have been imposed recently. It has also been reported that the government had even threatened the employees of the companies with jail time. It was less than a year that the Indian government had banned dozens of Chinese apps, including TikTok and WeChat.
Such an environment within the country has prompted multiple Indian made alternatives to many of those services to be developed to try and benefit from the burgeoning techno-nationalism. And some of them such as Koo are actually benefitting from it.
According to app analytics firm Sensor Tower TikTok-esque, the short video platforms MX Taka Tak and Mojare the two most downloaded apps in India so far in 2021 and have surpassed the downloads for Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp.
Describing the action of the Indian government against Twitter and other tech platforms is “unfortunate”, Bidawatka also praised Twitter’s service. He however also agreed that the tussle between the Indian government and Twitter has been an opportunity to boost their business for Koo and Koo and other Indian apps. He added that a better understanding of the market was present with the local apps and also the capacity to fill the void created when global tech companies fall short.
“A lot of the global tech giants have India as a part of their roadmap as far as growth is concerned, but they’re also a little worried about making big changes to a very stable global product to cater to a market like that,” he said. “We have the talent, we have the resources, some of us have the experience, there’s funding available for fulfilling dreams like these. And these are pretty large dreams, we’re talking about creating products that are very relevant to the second largest internet population in the world.”
(Adapted from CNN.com)