ByteDance is likely on your phone through its colony of popular apps like Tik Tok or Helo. Now it wants to make a phone of its own.—yes, you read that right. According to a new report by The Financial Times, the Beijing-based social media company is developing a “phone preloaded with its own apps which include newsfeeds, short video platforms and games in a bid to further spread its reach.”
This move explains that ByteDance plans to release a phone with its own pre-installed applications, including news feeds, video platforms and games, in order to further expand its reach. The move is being made as Chinese technology companies are concerned about the effects of US export bans on Huawei and are trying to support themselves with their own equipment.
Bytedance wouldn’t be the first Chinese software company to move towards selling stripped-down hardware that features their apps prominently from the moment you power on the device. Selfie app maker Meitu, a predecessor to Bytedance in the Chinese tech economy, has been building smartphones that come preloaded with the company’s software offerings, including their suite of photography editing software. Meitu sold this portion of its business to fellow Chinese firm Xiaomi as they look to expand their customer base.
However, ByteDance did make a deal with phone maker Smartisan earlier this year, saying that it had hired some Smartisan employees and a patent portfolio, but back then ByteDance claimed the deal was to explore the education business. With this new report in mind, the deal with Smartisan might be helpful to ByteDance for making its own smartphone as well.
In April, was faced a two-week ban in India, the madras High Court issued ban on the app after a petition was filed alleging the social platform promotes pornography, child abuse, and suicide. The ban which cost the app nearly 15 million users after Google and Apple removed it from their respective app stores following a directive from the Supreme Court.
India is largest market for TikTok having over 600 million users. The removal of the app for nearly two weeks put a dent to the app’s user growth in India, bringing to a halt to what has been the app’s best month yet in the country, said a report by Sensor Tower.
TikTok app has over 54 million monthly active users in India and has been downloaded over one billion times. Post the ban, TikTok returned to the top 10 on India’s App Store. The app currently ranks No. 1 in the Photo and Video category and No. 6 overall. It’s not yet clear as to when the smartphone will be launched.
Traditionally, it’s been seen that most software companies that ventured in the hardware space have not had much success (especially in the smartphone segment). Case in point, both Amazon and Facebook tried to make their own smartphones. The former with the Fire Phone and the latter partnering with HTC, both of which quickly went into oblivion—with its own smartphone, ByteDance is looking to compete against players such as Xiaomi, Samsung, Apple, Vivo, OnePlus, and many more local brands. But the bigger question here is: TikTok has a huge user base but does that warrant making a dedicated smartphone? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.