After facing a ban in India for over two years now, TikTok’s parent company ByteDance wants to relaunch TikTok or a similar app in the Indian market, one of its largest worldwide. However, several challenges lie ahead for any potential relaunch in 2023.
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In June 2020, India banned 59 Chinese apps including TikTok citing threats to national security and user privacy. The move came amid rising tensions between the two countries after border clashes.
TikTok denied sharing Indian users’ data with the Chinese government and appealed the ban. However, the Indian government did not reverse its decision, dealing a significant blow to TikTok which had over 200 million users in India then.
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Since the ban, ByteDance has been exploring different options to make a comeback in India. It has approached several Indian companies like Reliance Jio to form a local partnership complying with India’s data storage requirements.
However, ByteDance has not been able to finalize any deal so far. Reports suggest ByteDance wants an outright purchase of its Indian business rather than forming a joint venture. But potential partners have been wary of regulatory challenges and security concerns.
A New Strategy
To re-enter India, ByteDance may need to launch an entirely new app with a modified interface, stricter data privacy measures, and a different content strategy tailored to the Indian market.
ByteDance has reportedly registered new trademarks in India hinting at preparations for a relaunch. However, the company has not formally announced any roadmap for India yet.
Even if ByteDance launches a new app, it will face an uphill task to regain user trust and attract creators amid competition from domestic rivals.
More importantly, the app will need government approval, which is not guaranteed. Indian authorities have been cautious about approving Chinese investments due to security concerns.
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Re-entry in 2023?
Currently, no concrete evidence suggests TikTok will relaunch in India in 2023. Any comeback will likely depend on ByteDance finding a strategic partner and addressing security concerns.
ByteDance will also need permission and a directive from the Indian government. Considering delays and hurdles so far, a relaunch in 2023 looks unlikely.
While ByteDance remains interested in the large Indian market, several obstacles remain before TikTok or a new app can relaunch there. Approvals, data localization, security, competition, and diplomatic tensions will impact ByteDance’s prospects for 2023.
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