TikTok’s owner ByteDance has confirmed plans to produce smartphones after entering into a partnership with device-maker Smartisan Technology. The plans come as the tech firm expands into new sectors beyond video and news apps.
In a statement, a ByteDance spokesperson said a smartphone had been part of Smartisan’s development plans before the deal it made with ByteDance. “The product was a continuation of earlier Smartisan plans, aiming to satisfy the needs of the old Smartisan user base,” the spokesperson added.
Smartisan is a niche player in China’s smartphone sector and is best known for its founder Luo Yonghao.
ByteDance or Beijing ByteDance Technology Co Ltd. is a Chinese Internet technology company operating several machine learning-enabled content platforms, headquartered in Beijing. It was founded by Zhang Yiming in 2012.
Its most popular app, TikTok, known as Douyin in China. It an app where users share short videos of themselves lip-syncing, cooking, dancing or just being silly. The short video app has been installed more than 1.27 billion times, according to Sensor Tower. It has more than 300 million monthly users in China and over 450 million worldwide.
ByteDance’s core product, Toutiao (“Headlines”), is a popular content platform in China. Toutiao started out as a news recommendation engine and gradually evolved into a platform delivering content in a variety of formats, such as texts, images, question-and-answer posts, microblogs, and videos.
ByteDance currently competes with the likes of Baidu and Tencent. TikTok’s international appeal sets it apart from other Chinese social media platforms such as Tencent’s WeChat, Sina Weibo (WB) and Alibaba’s Youku, which have struggled to win over users outside of China.
The company was valued at $78 billion as of November 2018 and is considered one of the most valuable unicorns in the world. In May 2019 ByteDance announced the intention to launch a new app for free music streaming. The company has started negotiations with well-known music labels.