Bengaluru: Software product firm Zoho’s messaging app Arattai has crossed 20,000 downloads on iOS and Android, days after it released a beta version of the app. While Arattai was in the works since the beginning of 2020, the company decided to release the beta version as people sought alternatives to WhatsApp after its recent policy changes that would entail more data getting shared with parent Facebook. This is one of the first made in India messaging apps released amidst the furore over WhatsApp, even as calls to join global apps such as Signal and Telegram have increased in the last few days.
“We announced it last Friday internally to employees but this wasn’t something that we put together in a week’s time. We were working on a number of consumer applications using the over 10+ experience that we have in building enterprise products around collaboration, communication and productivity, It has a strong focus on user privacy,” Zoho’s VP Praval Singh told ET NOW in a telephonic conversation.
The data from the app is currently stored on Zoho’s servers in India. One of its immediate priorities is an end to end encryption. “We did a beta trial but we will have an end to end encryption in the final launch. We are getting enormous product feedback in the last few days and making changes. The full launch will happen within six months”, Singh said. The app is free for now and doesn’t have a monetisation strategy yet.
Arattai means to chat in Tamil. When asked if this limits the kind of users it will attract Singh said, “How many of us really know what Huawei or Xiaomi mean.. But these went on to become global brands.” Arattai is being developed by a 10-member team that sits out of Chennai.
While some of the current features include chats, calls, file sharing and document scanning, upcoming features include digital locker, end to end encryption, cloud storage and gaming.
Founder Sridhar Vembu built a global software product firm Zoho, valued at over a billion dollars, without raising a rupee. In 2019, he moved from Silicon Valley to a village in Tenkasi district in Tamil Nadu, as part of an effort to empower rural communities, something that Zoho has been trying to do for many years now. In fact, 15-20% of its engineering talent aren’t engineers by qualification but youngsters from smaller towns who were trained in coding and programming by Zoho.