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What TikTok’s success in India really implies

TikTok is a huge success story in India – close to 20 mn DAUs making it among the most active content app in India.

Now, there are many things you can really learn from the success of TikTok/ByteDance (esp on driving down user acquisition cost), but the one thing that comes out clearly is that TikTok defies one basic hypothesis which most Indian companies have had , i.e. Indians aren’t comfortable recording their own videos.

Products like Vine/Periscope never really took off in India as they focused on the ‘premium’ class – which IS STILL UNCOMFORTABLE recording their own videos.

But then, the real consumer market, the youth market out there is killing it and while we can debate on TikTok and related product’s content ethics, the reality is that most Indian startups in local/regional content space have limited themselves to ‘sharing pictures and jokes’ – BECAUSE IT WAS A SAFE thing to do; while TikTok has pushed the envelope.

Maybe most of these companies were trying to become “Twitter or Vine” of local regional content space, but here comes the bad guy who is killing it with its original moves (i.e. format).

In short, TikTok has taken much more risks and is reaping the benefit while the Indian counterparts have stuck to safer/standard rules (shareable content for WhatsApp). Let’s not just put TikTok just in ‘Chinese-funded-app-using-AI-and-massive-funding‘ bucket, but appreciate the ‘great-product-thinking‘.

Excuses (Chinese app/well funded/no ethics) doesn’t get us anywhere.

TikTok has created a new benchmark, a new category and like in most cases, Indian companies will play a catch-up. And if you tell me that TikTok is also a hub of soft-porn, please be assured that anybody who is targeting the consumer content market is just aspiring to be there – some reach fast and in a fairly bold manner, some do it in stealth fashion.

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