New Delhi:
Another Made-In-India initiative, Koo, is gearing up to give US microblogging site Twitter some competition. And Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, for one, seems excited about it. “Connect with me on this Indian micro-blogging platform for real-time, exciting and exclusive updates,” he ironically tweeted, inviting people to join the new platform. While Koo, at first sight, may come across as another attempt like Tooter, which called itself a “swadeshi social network”, what’s different with Koo is that it is a product of a competition organised by the Indian government under the Made-In-India rubric in August 2020. Probably because of that, ministers and government bodies are already making a beeline to join the new app in town. It is also difficult to lose sight of the fact that Koo comes bang in the midst of a bruising ideological debate involving Twitter in India.

Here are some of the things you must know about Koo, the new desi Twitter lookalike in town:

  1. Koo was launched by a Bengaluru-based startup co-founded by Aprameya Radhakrishna, who is also its CEO, and an alumnus of Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad. It was launched in March 2020.

  2. On its page on Google Play Store, Koo calls itself, “a personal updates and opinion-sharing micro-blogging platform”. It empowers people to express their thoughts in Indian languages with a strong knit local Indian community,” it says further.

  3. Koo claims to be an app built for Indians to share their views in their mother tongue and have meaningful discussions.

  4. Koo won the Centre’s AatmaNirbhar App Innovation Challenge held in August 2020. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had, in one of his Mann Ki Baat monthly radio talks, encouraged Indians to use Koo.

  5. Among its early users are personalities like Sadhguru, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal, and former cricketers Anil Kumble and Javagal Srinath. Government think-tank NITI Aayog, too, has already opened an account on Koo.

  6. On the first look, Koo offers almost all – if not more – features available on Twitter, including sharing of text, video, and audio messages.

  7. With close to 2.5 million downloads till now and a million active users, Koo has a 4.7-star rating on Play Store. While some of those looking to join the app complained of “an OTP issue,” the developers assured them by responding to their reviews that the glitch was temporary.  

  8. Koo comes 14 years after Twitter was launched and follows other players like Mastodon and Tooter which have sought to a bite of Twitter’s market.

  9. The app has witnessed more vocal backing from the Centre and its ministers following the the increasingly vicious face-off between the government and Twitter over the issue of free speech. 

  10. Koo supports multiple Indian languages, making it potentially more attractive for the country’s non-English and non-Hindi speaking communities.

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