Xiaomi's India business has faced some significant knocks in the last 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 clone of TikTok that saw millions of downloads in India after the latter was banned in the country, will go offline March 13.
Zili announced the shutdown through a notice in the app. It said the move was "due to an operational adjustment" without elaborating further. It's already closed down the app's 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 retrievable," the app notice said.
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Launched in 2018, Zili experienced substantial growth following the ban of TikTok in India in 2020.
Sensor Tower data at the time suggested that Zili's downloads skyrocketed to 8 million within three weeks of TikTok's ban, marking a substantial increase from its previous 3 million downloads. The app has amassed more than 100 million downloads to date, according to its Google Play listing. One big boost for it was that it came pre-installed on recent Xiaomi phones, further expanding its user base and boosting its user engagement.
Xiaomi did not respond to a request for comment.
After the TikTok ban in India, Zili wasn't the only short-video app that experienced a surge in users. Several other apps witnessed 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 a decline in usage after the initial surge; and as consolidation hit the short-video app market in the country, Tiger Global-backed ShareChat and Times Internet-owned on-demand video streaming service MX Player merged their short-video apps Moj and MX TakaTak. It didn't help, too, that big-tech companies such as Google and Meta also started to capture a significant share of market demand.
Zili also enjoyed an early boost of attention following the TikTok ban in India, even as parent company Xiaomi started to face its own political wrangles, with some of its apps — specifically Mi Browser and Mi Video Call — also getting banned by the Indian government.
Whether the news of the app shutting down is due to a similar reason, or due to something else, it is notable that Xiaomi has been facing growing scrutiny in India. The smartphone manufacturer is currently facing challenges in retaining its top position in the Indian market and improving inventory management. Last year, Xiaomi also discontinued its financial services in the country "as part of the annual strategic assessment activity" and "to enhanced focus" on its "core business services." Shutting down Zili will mean one more tie cut for Xiaomi in the country.