By now you will have heard of the short form video app that has taken the world by story TikTok. The company that developed the app ByteDance intends to launch its own smartphone. According to a report in the financial times which cited sources who said they were “familiar“ with the project, the company intends to release a smartphone with many of its app’s pre-installed as the primary method of attracting consumers to its device rather than those made by rivals.
Lots of successful apps
ByteDance has been hugely successful in the app space having developed multiple apps that are very popular including its Jinri Toutiao news app, Douyin which is what TikTok is called in China and Flipchat which is a messaging app. Byte Dance is also widely expected to launch its own music streaming service which will seek to compete with Apple Music and Spotify globally.
The founders vision
According to the report in the Financial Times, the idea behind ByteDance developing a smartphone was conceived by the company founder Zhang Yiming following the acquisition of Chinese phonemaker Smartisan along with a number of the company’s patents and some of its employees. Apparently Mr Zhang has had a vision of a smartphone that comes pre-installed with his company’s apps for quite some time now said one of the sources cited in the story.
May not become reality
It is not obvious that this phone will actually turn into a reality as the report on the Financial Times is quick to point out. Many companies have unsuccessfully tried to launch smartphones including Facebook and Amazon. Snapchat also tried its hand at hardware with Spectacles and that was an unmitigated disaster. There are other challenges ByteDance will face on a global level. For example, there was a brief ban in India of TikTok, a market where the app is incredibly popular.
Other issues the company must content with is privacy. For example, Douyin, the news app is heavily censored by Beijing and users of the app are thought to be under surveillance. Additionally, there is the continuing trade war between the United States and China which creates a lot of uncertainty and will almost certainly prevent ByteDance from capturing a significant share of the US smartphone market. The US Government recently banned Huawei from selling its devices over national security concerns. Whether ByteDance is able to enjoy the same kind of success in hardware as it has had in the app business remains to be seen.