Telegram Or Signal: Which Will Be India’s Next Favourite Messaging App After WhatsApp?

Telegram Or Signal: Which Will Be India’s Next Favourite Messaging App After WhatsApp?


US-based Signal came into the limelight after WhatsApp India’s privacy policy update and saw a surge of 1,727% in daily downloads, according to AppTweak data

Messaging app Telegram saw a large number of Indian users downloading the app post-WhatsApp policy update, recording the highest number of downloads during Jan 5-18, 2021

Despite, delaying the privacy policy update for 3 months, will WhatsApp recover its user base in India or lose them to alternative messaging apps?

Messaging app WhatsApp is in deep trouble in India after it announced a new privacy policy and terms of service on Jan 6, resulting in a nationwide backlash. The messaging service said it would share more user data with parent company Facebook, especially information related to business transactions done on the app, besides device-level data, IP address and other details on how users interacted with all Facebook group companies, including Instagram. The move is tied to the company’s bigger ecommerce play and its super-app ambition.

Interestingly, the company already collects device, connection and location data by default. In fact, it can collect location info with the help of multiple indicators even when the location access is turned off. Besides, it automatically collects device and usage logs that could reveal WhatsApp status, chat groups and profile photos.

On the face of it, this move seems standard in a world where tech behemoths have a finger in every pie and businesses thrive on data-driven solutions. But this time, the problem with WhatsApp is — it is the company’s way or the highway. The users who do not accept the amended privacy policy that would have come into effect from Feb 8, 2021 (now extended to May 15, 2021), can no longer access WhatsApp chat or groups, the company said in in-app prompts to multiple users in India.

Now the Indian government has asked WhatsApp to withdraw its new privacy policy, and the ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) also wants it to clarify issues related to its “privacy and data transfer and sharing policies, and general business practices”, as per media reports. So, the proposed change may never see the light of the day. But the damage has been done; user trust is lost, and the app is now witnessing a mass exodus. 

Can Indian Messaging Apps Grab WhatsApp India Users?

Due to privacy concerns, both experts and critics are now urging consumers and businesses to migrate to other instant messaging apps which are more secure and claim to offer superior encryption. Whether this will result in the biggest app exodus in history remains to be seen.

WhatsApp’s all-or-nothing approach has triggered the search for some of the best alternatives, although there are very few homegrown apps in this space. Hike Sticker Chat has already shut down its operations, and Arattai (recently launched by Zoho), JioChat, Namaste Bharat and Indian Messenger are the few names currently present in the market.

Hike Sticker Chat, a popular Indian messaging app, announced its shutdown on Jan 6 and discontinued its services from Jan 14. However, this will be replaced by two new apps called Vibe (previously known as Hikeland) and Rush, both developed by Hike.

Given this scenario, Indian users of WhatsApp have to opt for more popular global alternatives such as Telegram, Signal, Discord, Line, Viber and others.

Whatsapp alternatives feature comparison

Who Is Attracting Indian Users?

Inc42 partnered with AppTweak to understand how the various WhatsApp alternatives have performed in the past few days in terms of downloads, app power and other parameters. Here are a few takeaways:

Signal And Telegram Poaching WhatsApp’s Indian Consumers

Just after WhatsApp India announced its privacy policy update on Jan 6, users started shifting towards other alternatives. According to data from AppTweak, between Jan 5 and 18, 2021, Signal raked in 2 Mn downloads, thanks to a surge of 1727% in daily downloads, while Telegram saw 4.3 Mn new downloads and installs in India during the same period. 

WhatsApp saw a decline of 15.7% in daily downloads during this period. The messaging app recorded 1.4 Mn new downloads between Jan 6 and 10, down from 2 Mn between Jan 1 and 5.

Signal witnessed a massive peak in daily downloads on Jan 9 but saw a decline of 82.5% in daily downloads during Jan 9-18. 

Meanwhile, Telegram led in total downloads with 4.3 Mn during Jan 5-18, which surpassed WhatsApp downloads (4 Mn) for the same period.

Signal witnesses a surge of 1727% in downloads post whatsapp privacy policy update

WhatsApp India’s category ranking was also affected. It dropped to the third spot in the communications category on Jan 10, 2021, while Signal raced to the top slot in the same category from its previous rank of 208 on Jan 5.

Telegram also moved up from No. 4 to No. 2 during Jan 5-18. It shows that Telegram was performing well in the category and just got the right push after WhatsApp’s privacy debacle.

Signal snatched rank no.1 from whatsapp in communications category post the whatsapp privacy update

WhatsApp Remains Powerful Even After India Debacle

According to AppTweak, app power is a key performance indicator, or KPI, for an app’s overall performance in the store. It considers various factors such as the app’s competitiveness by category and the overall app store region.

Interestingly, both WhatsApp and Telegram had the highest app power (100) throughout Jan 5-18, 2021. Signal’s app power also increased from 19.2 on Jan 5 to 74.2 on Jan 18 due to its growing popularity and rising number of downloads. Meanwhile, US-based Discord had the second-highest app power, and it had been consistent in its ranking throughout this period

whatsapp and telegram are the most powerful messaging platforms in India

Will WhatsApp Fight Back?

As mentioned before, WhatsApp faced a huge backlash after announcing updates in its privacy policy, and people started migrating to more popular alternatives like Telegram and Signal. However, the company has begun its fightback in real earnest, trying to recover its image and user base.

It has clarified that the proposed update regarding data-sharing with Facebook will not affect personal chats or profile information and will only involve business chats if a user converses with a company’s customer service platform on WhatsApp.

Whatsapp Twitter Post

It has also extended the date of implementation to May 15 to ensure that users have plenty of time to review and understand the new terms. But several users have already migrated to other platforms due to rumours and misconceptions. Now that the government is taking a decisive step and the company’s data policies are under the MeitY scanner, this may turn out to be a long and hard battle.

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