TikTok’s Parent Company is Developing its Own Smartphone, Flagging Broader Ambitions

TikTok’s Parent Company is Developing its Own Smartphone, Flagging Broader Ambitions


There have been many new social media platforms which have seen a brief rise over the years, only to then fade out again just as fast. Remember ElloPeach? What about Vero or Tsu?

Each of these platforms saw a lot of initial hype, with a flood of users quickly shifting over to check out the next ‘Facebook-killer’, the next wave in social media, the next big app – only to then find that the active communities on each were much smaller (and shrinking), the features were less refined, etc.

Basically, given the advances that Facebook and other social media apps have made, it’s become very difficult for any new challenger to come in and either not have its features replicated by the majors (which have the advantage of scale) or be able to sustain its initial ethos, and have that generate a significant user base.

Snapchat is the only significant exception in recent times – and even it has had to make numerous concessions in its approach. The next wave, however, might actually be TikTok, which is amassing a huge user base, and is quickly solidifying its position by adding in advertiser options and business tools as it looks to capitalize on its initial hype.

TikTok users in the US over time [chart]

But then again, TikTok isn’t like the usual newcomer in the social space.

Tik Tok, which was introduced into western markets in August 2018, is owned by Chinese company ByteDance – which, before launching TikTok, had already been operating the same app in China for the preceding two years.

In China, TikTok is called Douyin, and Douyin was already up to 150 million daily active users before TikTok came about.

Douyin performance

That gave TikTok a significant advantage, and is why the platform has been able to quickly develop its business model. Now seeing more than 450 million users worldwide, and rising, TikTok is able to roll out ad tools in western markets that it’s already tested in China. And going on the latest reports, ByteDance is actually already moving beyond this, and is shifting into development of a new range of tools and business avenues to maximize its offering.

And now, according to new reports, ByteDance is also developing its own smartphone, taking on the work of phone maker Smartisan, which it acquired recently. 

A TikTok-based smartphone? Well, kind of – Smartisan is an established brand in China, with little presence outside of the nation, so ByteDance likely won’t be looking to launch a TikTok phone experience. But it will no doubt incorporate its apps into new Smartisan operating systems – which, given Smartisan’s reputation for innovation, could help further boost Douyin’s presence.

Smartisan has become known for trying out new ideas in Smartphone tech, like the Inifinite Screen:

Smartisan infinite screen example

The company has, reportedly, experienced operating difficulties of late, but the partnership with ByteDance could provide both companies with new opportunities, and could help boost ByteDance’s ambitions even further, solidifying its presence. 

That’s interesting considering the future of TikTok, and where the app is headed. As the short video app continues to rise, indicators like this point to TikTok being different, which may see it live beyond the initial hype cycle – which, as noted, has seen most other social challengers fall away. 

That could make TikTok a better bet for social media marketing, and reaching out via influencers, and even on-platform ads. There’s still a way to go, of course, TikTok hasn’t yet established its place as the next big social app. But its approach, as noted, is not the same, which may well position it to maximize its opportunities.

At the least, TikTok is definitely an app to watch moving forward.

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