TikTok owner ByteDance is reportedly planning to develop its own smartphone. The Financial Times reported that the company plans to enter into hardware to develop a smartphone that will come pre-installed with ByteDance’s apps.
As of now, the company owns video streaming app TikTok, messaging app Flipchat, a news aggregator app Jinri Toutiao (means Today’s Headlines) and Douyin, the Chinese version of the TikTok app. Earlier this month, Bloomberg reported that ByteDance is developing a music streaming service to take on Spotify, Apple Music and others and it has already secured deals with music labels like Times Music and T-series in India.
The FT cited a source, which said that Zhang Yiming, the founder of ByteDance “has long dreamt of a phone with ByteDance apps pre-installed”. In January, ByteDance acquired some of the tech-related patent rights of Smartisan, a Chinese smartphone maker and recruited some of its staff, reported Pandaily.
The move fits in line with the company’s plan to enter the smartphone business. However, the FT noted failed attempts of US internet companies when trying to enter the smartphone market, which include Amazon and Facebook.
Jio Mo, Shanghai-based analyst at Canalys says that the company has a very low chance of being successful, reported FT. Mo added that there’s basically no space for ByteDance in the mass market, given they lack experience and advantage in the supply chain.
In India, TikTok has a user base of 120 million users, which is no small number, but that does not ensure success for the smartphone. In 2013, Facebook launched its own smartphone in partnership with HTC, and the device was called HTC First and though it was an Android phone, it was preloaded with Facebook’s own interface called Facebook Home. The HTC First smartphone failed to make an impact in the market.
Then in 2014, Amazon launched its own Fire Phone, which was a 3D-enabled smartphone developed manufactured by Foxconn for the company. Unlike the Fire tablets, which were successful when they launched, the Amazon Fire Phone had what analysts called as dismal sales. Amazon reportedly took a hit of $170 million due to the Fire Phone.
While a TikTok smartphone might sound like an enticing prospect, as past history has shown social media companies have not fared well in this space.