March 1, 2021

YouTube announces TikTok competitor in India, where TikTok is banned

Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images

YouTube on Monday unveiled Shorts, a short-form video feature that’s aiming to directly compete with TikTok. 

YouTube said it will launch an early beta of Shorts in India over the next few days, before expanding to other countries.

India is a good place for YouTube to launch Shorts. The country banned Chinese-owned TikTok and 58 other apps in June when it said that the apps were “engaged in activities which is prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India.” Before it was banned, roughly 30% of TikTok’s two billion downloads came from India, according to Sensor Tower

Instagram, which launched its TikTok clone Reels in August, told CNBC last week that it’s already seeing rapid user growth in India. But, that also means that YouTube will compete with Facebook for new users.

Shorts will be part of the YouTube app. It looks TikTok, with an option to add music, change the speed of the video and more. But video length is capped at just 15 seconds. TikTok videos can be up to a minute long. 

Shorts is only available for Android phones right now, but YouTube said it will expand to iPhone and to other countries soon.

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