The owner of TikTok, the world’s hottest social media app at the moment, is preparing to launch its own smartphone, reports the Financial Times. The FT says TikTok owner ByteDance will leverage the patents and technology it acquired when it bought Chinese boutique smartphone maker Smartisan earlier this year. That’s according to two sources with knowledge of ByteDance’s plans, the FT says.
While in the U.S. ByteDance is primarily known for its insanely popular video streaming platform TikTok, the company also has other popular apps in China including news aggregator Toutiao, a work collaboration tool called Lark, an instant messenger called Feiliao, and an upcoming music streaming app.
So where does a ByteDance smartphone come into the picture? By offering its own smartphone and preinstalling its family of apps on it, ByteDance can greatly expand the number of users of its entire app ecosystem. Smartphone app pre-installs have long been a popular way for software companies in China to increase their apps’ user bases, and with the popularity of TikTok, it wants to leverage that app’s star power to push a smartphone with the company’s other apps on it.
Even though the smartphone market in China is already crowded by bigger players like Huawei, Apple, Vivo, Oppo, and Xiaomi, the move makes sense. After all, the more a company diversifies its offerings, the less risk the company has if one of its apps flounder in the future. And while TikTok clearly dominates the social media landscape right now, apps that cater to the whims of teens are also susceptible to teenagers’ fickle behaviors. What teens can consider hot one moment, they can shun the next when a newer app comes along. If ByteDance can expand the user bases of its other apps, their growth could buffer any decline in TikTok’s use in the future.