ByteDance, the corporate behind video app TikTok, is reportedly building its own smartphone too. According to 2anonymous sources in a financial Times report, the phone would come preloaded with ByteDance’s many apps — which include the news aggregator Jinri Toutiao, the ubiquitous TikTok, and in line with some rumors, an unreleased streaming music service.
The financial Times says that ByteDance ceo Zhang Yiming has “long dreamt” of building a smartphone filled with preloaded apps. The Beijing-based company confirmed a deal with phone maker Smartisan early this year, saying it had acquired a patent portfolio and employed some Smartisan employees. ByteDance claimed this would help it “explore the education business,” however this recent news casts the purchase in a new light.
The report doesn’t provide details concerning the phone’s design or intended market, although it suggests that ByteDance could be hampered by the U.S.A. government’s hostility toward Chinese telecommunication corporations. ByteDance has also faced issues in India, where TikTok has exploded in popularity — however the government briefly banned it for promoting “cultural degradation.”
Overall, the FT report is highly skeptical of the phone’s prospects. It notes that Facebook and Amazon have launched phones preloaded with special apps; however both companies discontinued the fairly unpopular products. Particularly in Facebook’s case, users could simply download the apps they wanted on other phones — a challenge ByteDance might face moreover. On the other hand, Chinese selfie app maker Meitu successfully parlayed a smartphone business into a deal with Xiaomi.