TikTok and Helo’s parent company, ByteDance has confirmed its plans to foray into smartphone manufacturing. Earlier in January, ByteDance has acquired a Chinese electronic device maker Smartisan. According to a media report, a ByteDance spokeswoman has said that smartphone had been part of Smartisan development plans even prior to their acquisition of ByteDance. Also, a Chinese media report noted that ByteDance phone had been in development for the past seven months and the project is led by a former Smartisan executive, Wu Dezhou.
ByteDance founder, Zhang Yiming, had earlier said to have “long dreamt of a phone with Bytedance apps pre-installed”.
Other social media giants like Facebook and Snapchat have also dabbled in smartphone manufacturing in the past. While, Facebook could only sell 15K units and later decided to scrap off the business with lack of viability. Snapchat tried smartphones manufacturing in 2017, with dozens of employees who specialised in developing cell phones. However, Snapchat also later decided to drop these plans.
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With its own smartphone, ByteDance will be competing against players such as Xiaomi, Samsung, Apple, Vivo, OnePlus, and many more local brands in India. Smartphone users in India are projected to reach 829 Mn by 2022 as the country is currently the world’s fastest-growing smartphone market with 23% CAGR.
ByteDance In India
ByteDance launched in India in mid-2017 and claims to have around 300 Mn monthly active users from India across TikTok, Vigo Video and Helo. German database firm Statista says TikTok alone has 200 Mn users, of which 120 Mn are active on a monthly basis, compared to 300 Mn Facebook users in India.
The company has already invested $100 Mn in the market and is now planning to invest $1 Bn more. This, despite, hard times with Indian government and being banned in the country for 20 days.
In 2018, ByteDance could barely meet its 2018 revenue target as a result of sharp slowdown in Chinese advertising growth. It had reportedly told investors to expect a revenue of $7.4 Bn (¥ 50 Bn – ¥ 55Bn), however, the performance could touch the lower end.
This was record-breaking as the company has never missed its forecast and 2018 miss was due to delay in monetising its new functions. Further, even if it launched the smartphone, the competition in China and Japan with reducing imports will have to be overcome.