Journal : Global Times (English) Date : Author : Chi Jingyi Page No. : NA

Entry of US rivals could lead to monopoly in Indian market

With India extending the list of banned Chinese applications again following a recent ban of another batch of 118 apps, problems including economic loss, inconvenience, entry of foreign competitors and market disorder have begun to arise.

The latest tragedy was Pritam Halder, a 21-year-old Indian student, who allegedly died by suicide on Sunday for not being able to play PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, known as PUBG, reported.

Apart from the death, millions of Indians could lose their means of livelihood due to the Chinese app ban by the Indian government.

Inconvenience and losses

The ban of short-video platform TikTok, for instance, with monthly active users of more than 200 million, has caused huge losses to content creators based on the platform.

In addition, brands such as Zara, Puma, Pepsi and Clean & Clear, work on TikTok with content creators for digital advertising, as the platform has a diverse and huge user base.

The absence of Chinese apps in the Indian market, currently the second-largest market in the world in terms of apps download, has caused not only economic losses, but also inconvenience.

An Indian businessman based in South China’s Guangdong Province told the Global Times on Monday that when people choose an application, they are choosing high-efficiency and convenience.

“I continue using WeChat even when I am back in India, not because I have business relations with China, but simply because the app is useful. It has all the functions I need for communication and social media. For example, you have to download nearly the whole Facebook family, including Facebook, Instagram, messaging and Whatsapp to cover the same functions that the simple application WeChat can provide,” said the Indian businessman, who preferred to be anonymous.

He said he could still use WeChat in India because he registered with a Chinese mobile phone number.

A Chinese businessman based in New Delhi also told the Global Times on Monday that WeChat registered with an Indian mobile phone number cannot be used anymore. But with a Chinese number, message function is available while other functions require a vpn, which creates inconvenience for Chinese enterprises in India and those Indian companies that have business relations with China.

According to Indian Council for Research on International Economics Relations, Chinese investors and companies have been investing for years in Indian companies, pouring about $4 billion into Indian start-ups. Of India’s 30 so-called unicorns – start-ups valued at more than $1 billion – 18 are now funded by Chinese companies.

New competitors

The ban on Chinese apps has also led to a proliferation of similar-looking Indian apps such as Roposo, Sharechat and Chingari, a move that analysts say is an attempt by Indian tech companies to take the market share of Chinese apps.

Local internet companies are using the populism in India coming from the border tensions to take more market share as India excludes powerful Chinese competitors from the market, Bao Jianyun, professor in the School of International Studies and director of the Center for International Political Economy Studies at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Monday.

“India’s ban on Chinese apps will lead to the entry into the Indian market of apps that were not competitive before the ban, which will lower the overall competitiveness of the Indian market and bring disorder to the market. US support behind India cannot be ruled out either. Driving Chinese companies out of India will also help US internet companies carve up the Indian market, which may eventually lead to monopoly with Chinese competitors,” Bao noted.

The recent ban on 118 more Chinese apps has created opportunities not only for local tech companies, but also for US tech giants such as Facebook and Apple to develop in India, which is a win-win situation for both India and the US, CNBC reported.

Hard to carve up

For e-sports companies such as Indian Gaming Federation (IGL), whose YouTube channel has been broadcasting daily livestream of PUBG during the coronavirus lockdown, total views and viewing time increased by more than 1,000 percent, thus the loss of viewers could be huge after the app ban, media reported.

“There are plenty of other games to fill the void for PUBG and IGL,” Yash Pariani, CEO of IGL, was quoted by Business Today as saying.

In India alone, PUBG has more than 175 million installations, or 24 percent of the global total, according to a report by Sensor Tower.

But a game development engineer based in Seattle said that it takes time to build the game architecture, and to debug after test run, which means that newly developed Indian games cannot be on the market immediately.

“Since existing Indian games failed to stand out when Chinese games were still in the market, it shows that the games are not competitive. Even without Chinese games, Indian games will not fill up China’s vacant market share, which will possibly be carved up by competitive games from other countries, such as those from South Korea and Japan,” the engineer told the Global Times on Tuesday.

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