Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Mitron app gives TikTok a challenge - will it sustain though?

While the government-mandated Aarogya Setu continues to be the number one downloaded app in Google Play Store India, the second in the list is the surprise packet: An unheralded app called Mitron TV app (generally referred to as Mitron App).

Apparently released by an IIT Roorke student Shivank Agarwal, Mitron App is a clone of TikTok and lets users share typical short videos on the platform.

Launched a month ago, Mitron app has already logged over 5 million installs and is currently said to be enjoying half a million installs per day.

So that begs the questions: Why? How?

Well, it is pegged as a rival to TikTok which is in the midst of an acrimonious controversy that saw its ratings come down alramingly in the last week or so. There was even a #BanTikTok campaign on social media platforms after a video glorifying acid attack emerged on it. 

As many as 6 million people bombarded 1 star review with negative on the Google Play Store. So much so that the ratings of the app is down to 1.3 stars from 4.5 stars.

Mitron answers to the AtmaNirbhar needs

TikTok, though hugely popular in India, has had an uncomfortable equation with the Indian government. It was even banned once over some individual content.

TikTok being owned by a Chinese group has also led to some backlash from the right-wingers in the country. And it is this this group that is reportedly said to be behind the sudden and meteoric rise of MitronTV app on the play store.

For starters, the word Mitron itself is a huge attraction for the right-wingers, who form the ruling dispensation at the moment in India. Mitron, meaning 'friends' in Hindi, is a word that is famous for its repeated usage by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his speeches.

In a sense, Mitron, in the current milieu of India, invokes a spirit of nationalism as defined by the supporters of the ruling party, the BJP.

With that name, no doubt the Mitron app has unsurprisingly found favour among the huge cross-section of 'nationalist' masses. After the Covid-19, there has been some unfortunate campaign against Chinese products and companies in India --- there were specific WhatsApp messages which made a fervent appeal to download the MitronTV App as TikTok was backed by the Chinese.

WhatsApp Message urging Indians to use Mitron App

Technically, buggy

The group that is pushing this app is also said to be making a strong and successful campaign on platforms like the Youtube. The mood of fevered nationalism and anti-Chinese emotion has combined to pilot MitronTV App to record installs in a short time.

The app, as such, does not seem to be enjoying good name on the technical front. A cursory read of many of the feedbacks/reviews of the app on the Play Store does not provide a flattering pictire of the app's actual performance.

The app is said to be 'bug-infested' and there are too many complaints on its API, too.

As far as the content goes, there is also the allegation that many of the content are a straight lift from TikTok after removing its watermark.

Talking of TikTok, in a related or unrelated development, TikTok’s Google Play rating for android improved to 1.6 after nearly 4 million views disappeared from the app store.

This isn’t the first time that the rating of a popular app improved drmatically under contentious circumstances. Zoom, the video calling app which saw 1900% user growth increase, saw its rating downgraded in the face of saecurity concerns, but the ratings got better quickly in a few days time. Google has not said how this happened.

So, you can rest assured that TikTok would use every trick in the book to fight back in India. But if Mitron App can get its act together by attending to the technical glitches, by improving its user interface and by being available as an ios app, TiKTok will sure face its toughest battle yet.

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