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Tik-Tok ban: Insta Reels to be extended to India

Tik-Tok ban: Insta Reels to be extended to India
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Tik-Tok ban: Insta Reels to be extended to India

Highlights

After the ban on TikTok and other Chinese apps in India, many startups look to cash in on the video content apps, a big challenger is ready to try its hand. Now it’s just a few months wait away for millions of TikTok users to enjoy a new feature on Instagram.

New Delhi: After the ban on TikTok and other Chinese apps in India, many startups look to cash in on the video content apps, a big challenger is ready to try its hand. Now it's just a few months wait away for millions of TikTok users to enjoy a new feature on Instagram.

Instagram officials said it is rolling out reels to enhance with a feature that allows users to create short-form videos which can be set to music or other audio. The Facebook-owned service first began testing reels last year. Video is already a popular way how many Indians engage on Instagram.

"Videos make up over a third of all posts in India," said Ajit Mohan, the head of Facebook India. "And in general, about 45% of all videos posted on Instagram are of 15 seconds or shorter," said Vishal Shah, VP of Product at Facebook.

India banned 59 apps and services developed by Chinese firms citing privacy and security concerns last week. Among the apps that have been blocked in the country includes TikTok, ByteDance's app that has offered a similar functionality as Reels for years. TikTok identified India as its biggest market outside of China. Late last year, TikTok said it had amassed over 200 million users in India and the firm was looking to expand that figure to at least 300 million this year.

In the event of TikTok's absence, a number of startups including Twitter-backed Sharechat, Chingari, InMobi Group's Roposo, and Mitron have ramped up their efforts and have claimed to court tens of millions of users within a short span. Sharechat said it had doubled its daily active users in a matter of days to more than 25 million.

Gaana, a music streaming service owned by Indian conglomerate Times Internet, rolled out HotShots that curate user-generated videos. Gaana had more than 150 million monthly active users as of earlier this year. But Instagram, which has already attracted tens of thousands of influencers in India, is perhaps best positioned to take on TikTok in the world's second-largest internet market. There are more than 165 million monthly active users os Instagram last month.

Speaking on it, Mohan said, "We are hoping that Instagram Reels would enable several content creators in India to gain followers worldwide. The platform has already courted several popular names including Ammy Virk, Gippy Grewal, Komal Pandey, Jahnavi Dasetty aka Mahathalli, Indrani Biswas aka Wondermunna, Radhika Bangia, RJ Abhinav and Ankush Bhaguna." He confirmed that users can also share Reels as their stories.

In recent years, platforms such as TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram have attracted more than a million content creators, several of whom have made it their livelihood. Just as equally impressive is who these creators are beauticians, dieticians, high school students from small towns in India, elderly who speak languages that very few people understand.

People who have been massively underrepresented in mainstream Bollywood movies and speeches of politicians have found a platform and gained a following that challenges the mainstream media's reach. Many of these creators make thousands of dollars through advertisers and deals with the brands.

Sajith Pai, Director at venture firm Blume said, "YouTube and Instagram would be able to court the top influencers from TikTok and other platforms. "But beyond a point, they won't be bandying out much incentive to other creators."

In the run-up to the launch of Reels, Facebook has secured deals with several Indian music labels including Saregama in India. Also ahead of Reels availability in India, Facebook announced it was shutting down Lasso, it's another attempt at taking on short-form videos.

Today's announcement comes days after Facebook partnered with Indian education board CBSE to coach thousands of educators and students about a range of things including "Instagram's Guide for Building Healthy Digital Habits" which is aimed at helping youngsters better understand the "socio-emotional space" they operate in and engage in health conversations.

Instagram Lite, another Facebook app that is especially popular in developing markets, was pulled from Google Play Store last month. When asked about it, Shah said the company has identified some issues in it and was working to resolve those.

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