While there has been an anti-Chinese goods sentiment in recent days, the government’s decision to block popular apps such as TikTok, CamScanner and UC Browser may create some fear among buyers who have traditionally opted for these smartphones as they are lighter on the pocket. In fact, many TikTok users opted for these phones because they are high on features but are much cheaper than comparable phones from Samsung or Nokia.
With uncertainty around Chinese companies — given recent government moves over scanning investments or import consignments from across the border — buyers may opt for “safer bets”, mobile company executives said. Rivals, however, concede that they themselves source most of the products from China.
What happens to existing users of phones from Chinese companies? The banned apps were present on the Android (Google) or iOS (Apple) app stores, but would be unavailable once the government diktat is implemented. They will also stop functioning on phones where they have already been downloaded.
“This will not hamper functioning of devices, which will continue to work as usual. Customers may switch to new apps,” an executive with a phone manufacturer said.
“There will definitely be a negative sentiment as people will ask twice before buying a Chinese product,” said Neil Shah, research director at CounterPoint. He said non-Chinese brands, such as Samsung and Apple and even some of the homegrown makers, may get to see a traction in demand.
Pradeep Jain, chairman of Jaina group that makes Karbonn phones, said, while earlier some device makers had been pre-installing Chinese apps, the trend is not that prevalent now. UC Browser was one of the popular apps that came pre-installed on some of the devices, though the company was paying a fee to the device maker for this. “There have always been concerns around the data usage and harvesting of these apps,” Jain said.