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Flash Report

ByteDance Reportedly Developing Its Own Smartphones

Coresight Research

Key Points

  • Beijing-based ByteDance is breaking into the smartphone market, according to the Financial Times. 
  • ByteDance is the parent company of popular video app TikTok. 
  • This move represents a bold move for ByteDance as the company will be entering a crowded space with established players – and one unrelated to its core social network app business.

Beijing-based technology startup ByteDance, parent company of popular apps TikTok and Toutiao, is planning to develop its own smartphones, according to the Financial Times. The company did previously confirm it had hired smartphone startup Smartisan talent and acquired some of Smartisan’s patent rights.

Smartphones Pre-Loaded with Its Own Apps?

If ByteDance is indeed developing its own smartphone, it will likely make one pre-loaded with its apps – just as Facebook and Amazon launched phones pre-installed with their apps, as did popular Chinese selfie app Meitu. However, none have achieved remarkable success: Both Facebook and Amazon stopped making their own phones, and Meitu sold its smartphone business to major Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi last year.

Meitu’s M8s smartphone series


ByteDance Is Building a Portfolio of Social Network Products

ByteDance has been expanding its reach in China’s social media landscape. In January, the company launched a video-based messaging app called Duoshan, which incorporates features of TikTok and Snapchat. Users can use a range of filters and special effects when sending messages. Images and videos are available for 72 hours.

Interfaces of the Duoshan app
Source: App store


The latest development, in May, was ByteDance’s launch of Feiliao, an instant messaging app that also hosts interest-based forums. The app has similar functions to China’s most popular social media app WeChat, with the difference that this one seeks to build communities based on common interests.

Interfaces of the Duoshan app
Source: App store


Although details of ByteDance’s foray into hardware are still unclear, the company’s huge user base could serve as an excellent target market. During the Duoshan launch event in January, ByteDance management said its short video app TikTok’s monthly active users had exceeded 500 million. And, those customers are spending more time on the app: According to China-based mobile data services company QuestMobile, the time spent on ByteDance’s apps in the first half of 2018 increased to 10.1% of the total time spent on mobile apps, from 3.9% in the prior-year period. That said, so far the record of ByteDance-like companies launching their own phones indicates ByteDance could face challenges of consumer adoption.

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