TikTok owner working on own-brand smartphone

Jul 30, 2019 | Mobile, Social, Social media

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ByteDance, the Chinese company behind popular video-sharing app TikTok is branching out into making smartphones.

A sub-division of Chinese financial news outlet Caijing reported that the phone had been in development for seven months.

Details are relatively scarce on what this new device would focus on, but Reuters reports that the device will be a “continuation” of a project from Smartisan, a niche smartphone maker in China with its own Android-based operating system.

It’s unclear if this new device would be running on Smartisan OS or a different build of Android.

Most likely, this smartphone is destined to only launch in China as a part of the company’s expansion into fields beyond just apps such as the video-based TikTok social network. Work on the device has reportedly been underway for about seven months, with patents and staff from Smartisan working on the project.

The effort is being led by Wu Dezhou, a former executive at Smartisan, the outlet added. Earlier this year ByteDance acquired a set of patents from Smartisan. Some Smartisan employees also transferred to ByteDance, as part of what the latter company called a “normal flow of talent.”

TikTok is the fastest-growing social media app, with about 500 million regular users.

The Vine-style app, which lets people post 15-second videos, is estimated to have been downloaded more than a billion times on app stores.

Besides TikTok, ByteDance owns several popular AI-based video and news apps, such as Slack alternative Lark, video-chat app Flipchat, and news aggregator Toutiao, but TikTok is by far its most popular offering.

The app has done so well with both Western and Asian audiences that it recently unseated Uber to become the world’s largest privately backed start-up, with a valuation of $75bn (£61.4bn).

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