Xiaomi’s Indian business has taken a major hit over the past year, and in the latest development, the handset giant is killing off Zili, one of its popular consumer apps. The short-form video app, a TikTok clone that saw millions of downloads in India after the latter was banned in the country, will go offline on March 13.
Zili announced the shutdown through an in-app notice. He said the move was “due to an operational adjustment” without giving further details. He has already shut down the app website.
The app asked users to download and store their content offline and redeem their “Z-Points” reward points before the shutdown date.
All user data will be deleted from Zili’s servers after that date, “and will no longer be recoverable,” the app’s notice reads.
Launched in 2018, Zili has seen substantial growth following the banning of TikTok in India in 2020.
Data from Sensor Tower at the time suggested Zili’s downloads had skyrocketed to 8 million in the three weeks following TikTok’s ban, marking a substantial increase from his previous 3 million downloads. The app has racked up over 100 million downloads to date, according to its Google Play listing. A big boost for this was that it came pre-installed on recent Xiaomi phones, further expanding its user base and boosting user engagement.
Xiaomi did not respond to a request for comment.
After TikTok was banned in India, Zili was not the only short video app to see a surge in users. Several other apps saw similar growth as Indian startups introduced their TikTok alternatives to fill the void.
However, this growth phase was short-lived. Apps such as Sequoia-backed Trell saw usage decline after the initial wave; and as consolidation hit the short-video app market in the country, Tiger Global-backed ShareChat and Times Internet’s video-on-demand streaming service MX Player merged their short-video apps Moj and MX TakaTak. It also didn’t help that big tech companies such as Google and Meta also started to capture a significant share of market demand.
Zili also got an early boost to attention after TikTok was banned in India, even as parent company Xiaomi began to grapple with its own political wrangling, some of its apps – particularly Mi Browser and Mi Video. Call – also being banned by the Indian government.
Whether the news of the app being shut down is due to a similar reason or something else, it’s worth noting that Xiaomi is coming under increasing scrutiny in India. The smartphone maker is currently facing challenges in maintaining its leading position in the Indian market and improving inventory management. Last year, Xiaomi also halted its financial services in the country “as part of the annual strategic review activity” and “to focus more” on its “basic business services”. The closure of Zili will mean one more equality for Xiaomi in the country.
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