ByteDance Smartphone: A Tool For TikTok To Dethrone Facebook?

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ByteDance is in news once again; this time it is not for a different reason altogether. Unlike TikTok that took the world by storm, ByteDance is planning to introduce their own Smartphone and is ready to enter the hardware market, according to a report in Financial Times. ByteDance is a famous app development company that is the most downloaded app, TikTok, challenging the dominance of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram worldwide.

Its entry in hardware will be supported by the patents and technology acquisition of Chinese boutique smartphone maker Smartisan earlier this year. In January, at the time of the acquisition, ByteDance had said that the deal was done to “explore the education business.”  That was an inquisitive statement as Smartisan’s business has little to do with education. People suspected that the statement could be an indicator of a hardware development capability ByteDance wants to build to promote its app ecosystem aggressively.

Quite recently the internet was flooded with the rumours that ByteDance is also working on its own Music app. The company also has other popular apps in China including news aggregator Toutiao, a work collaboration tool called Lark, an instant messenger called Feiliao. Of course, TikTok is the most valuable app at the moment.


Launched in late 2016, TikTok rise to popularity is no less than a surprise. It is the 3rd most downloaded app worldwide now. Interestingly, despite having over half a billion monthly active users worldwide, it is showing no sign of slow down in its growth rate. In Q1 2019, TikTok posted 70% growth in its install base worldwide, beating behemoths like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. With such growth rate TikTok may soon leapfrog other apps to become the most downloaded app worldwide.

Complete Control Over The App Ecosystem

The worldwide smartphone industry has over 5.5 billion unique apps listed across all app stores. The increasing number of apps has intensified the competition among the app developers who are leaving no stone unturned to get their app listed among the top downloaded apps on Apple AppStore and Google Play. Smartphone users have an array of apps available that offer the same functionality or content. Hence, acquiring smartphone users and keeping them hooked is proving a tricky affair for all app developers.

By launching own Smartphone will provide an upper hand to ByteDance over other companies who have a list of popular apps available on app stores. ByteDance could have pre-installed apps on its own smartphones that would provide the company edge over its competitors in the app industry. By doing these they can easily have better control over the entire app ecosystem. Software companies had already used pre-install as a ladder to grow its user base even in the past. ByteDance apps, other than TikTok, can also become popular by attracting the eyeballs of users who find it pre-installed on their smartphones.

ByteDance Smartphone: Essential To The Growth?

Without having the backing of Alibaba or Tencent, TikTok has proved its metal in the market. Tech giants of China are still struggling to deal with the enormous popularity of TikTok, which seems to be unstoppable as of now. However, to keep the phenomenal growth of TikTok, ByteDance needs to employe out of the box strategy that could keep the ball rolling, especially in countries like China and India which together account for over 80% of TikTok userbase.

China and India, together, account for nearly 45% of the world’s smartphone userbase. The increasing influence of smartphone and ever-connected attitude and necessity of people has made a smartphone emerge as a gateway to the internet. So far TikTok is downloaded for over 800 million times worldwide and a lion’s share of the astounding figure comes from China and India.


While China is slowly heading towards the mobile internet saturation, the penetration in India is still at quite a nascent stage. The number of mobile internet users in China has reached 1.59 billion while India has 550 million mobile internet users, which leaves more than 1 billion users untapped. And, if we add up the untapped users outside China and India, this figure would easily jump over to 3 billion. Just to put things in perspective, the Facebook family of apps – Facebook app, Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram – has over 2.7 billion monthly active users worldwide.

Put all these stats along with the fact that Entertainment is the most popular category – TikTok belongs to – across the app stores worldwide, the growth potential for ByteDance is enormous.

ByteDance Smartphone: The Gamble Worth Taking?

By launching its own smartphone, ByteDance can push the download figures of its family to apps to new heights. The pre-install app strategy is one of the best ways to rope in millions of smartphone users in no time. By having complete control over its app ecosystem, ByteDance could replicate the success of TikTok for other apps the company has been focusing off late.

The worldwide smartphone market is already dominated by Xiaomi, Samsung, Vivo and Oppo. Still, the move by ByteDance makes a perfect sense considering the fickle mindset of youngsters nowadays. If the future of a company completely depends on the success of its apps, by diversifying its offerings and having greater control over the elements that are essential for the growth of apps is the quite a strategic move.

Even if one app fails to attract eyeballs of smartphone users or face warmth in the future, the growth of other apps could buffer such decline.

At the same time, It is to be noted that Amazon also tried to employ a similar strategy by having their own phones preloaded with apps. Unfortunately, the company had to discontinue the phones as the company had failed to compete with the likes of Samsung and Apple.

That said, it would be interesting to see how ByteDance could leverage on the potential of having own device in the market. And, if the company gets all its bets at the right place, its apps like TikTok and few others could soon change the social media landscape by doing the same to Facebook what the today’s social media titan did to MySpace – once the undisputed leader on the social media industry.


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