ByteDance, the firm behind the popular video app TikTok, is working on its own smartphone. The news was leaked by two sources speaking to the Financial Times, but ByteDance has since refused to give a comment on the matter. Earlier this year, it was reported that the TikTok developer was buying patents from a Chinese smartphone maker called Smartisan under the pretense of exploring the education business.
The news comes at an interesting time with relations between the United States and China being a bit cold, with the latter’s tech businesses such as Huawei and ZTE being hounded out of Western markets over alleged links to the Chinese government. One point in ByteDance’s advantage is that its TikTok app is fairly popular outside of China, including in the U.S. and India, meaning more people could seek out their products.
Jia Mo, an analyst from Canalys, doesn’t believe a ByteDance phone could take off. He said:
“There’s basically no space for them in the mass market. They lack experience and advantage in supply chain, in channels . . . so their likelihood of being successful is very low. If they target only the niche market, maybe they have a chance by attracting niche customer groups through certain pre-installed software.”
ByteDance will be a very interesting company to watch going forward, as its main product, TikTok, is centered on data-heavy video content; with 5G and other high-speed connections becoming more widely available, more apps like these could take off, giving ByteDance a new market to exploit.