Xiaomi’s Indian business has suffered some serious blows over the past year, and in its latest development, the mobile phone giant is killing off Zili, one of its popular consumer apps. The short video app, a clone of TikTok that saw millions of downloads in India after the latter was banned in the country, will go offline on March 13.
Zili announced the closure via an in-app message. It said the move was “due to an operational adjustment”, without elaborating further. The app’s website has already been closed.
The app asked users to download and save their content offline and redeem their “Z-Points” reward points before the closing date.
All user data will be deleted from Zili’s servers after that date “and will not be recoverable,” the app notification said.
Launched in 2018, Zili experienced significant growth after 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, a significant increase from its previous 3 million downloads. According to the Google Play listing, the app has been downloaded more than 100 million times to date. A big boost was that it was pre-installed on recent Xiaomi phones, further expanding the user base and increasing 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 to see a surge in users. Several other apps experienced similar growth as Indian startups introduced their TikTok alternatives to fill the void.
However, this growth phase was short-lived. Apps like Trell, powered by Sequoia, saw usage decline after the initial surge; and as consolidation hit the short video apps market in the country, Tiger Global-backed ShareChat and Times Internet-on-demand video streaming service MX Player merged their short video apps Moj and MX TakaTak. It also didn’t help that big tech companies like Google and Meta also started capturing a significant chunk of the market demand.
Zili also got an early boost of attention after India’s TikTok ban, even as parent company Xiaomi started to face its own political squabbles, with some of its apps – most notably Mi Browser and Mi Video Call – also being banned by the Indian government.
Whether the news of the app shutting down comes for a similar reason, or something else, it’s notable that Xiaomi is under increasing scrutiny in India. The smartphone maker is currently facing challenges to maintain its top position in the Indian market and improve inventory management. Last year, Xiaomi also shut down its financial services in the country “as part of its annual strategic review activity” and “to focus more attention” on its “core business services”. Shutting down Zili means another draw for Xiaomi in the country.