Earlier this year, there were rumours that Bytedance—the company that owns popular video-sharing app TikTok—was reportedly looking to make a smartphone. It turns out that those rumours are true. According to a report by Reuters, Bytedance is collaborating with device maker Smartisan Technology.
On Monday a sub-division of Chinese financial news outlet Caijing reported that the phone had been in development for seven months. 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.”
The smartphone will very likely be exclusive to China for the foreseeable future. While TikTok may be a global sensation, Smartisan is a relatively unknown brand even in China. The smartphone will likely aid in Bytedance's push to expand into other areas of the app economy. The company is reportedly working on a video social network and may use the smartphone as a promotion. Not much is known about the actual smartphone itself, but we can expect more details to emerge as time passes.
We're not entirely sure just what Bytedance's new smartphone will bring to the table. The market is already chock full of established Chinese OEMs who are more than capable of manufacturing reasonably-priced, high-quality devices. Pre-installed TikTok is hardly an incentive for anyone to buy a smartphone.
Phones that revolve around an internet company have historically flopped. For example, Amazon's Fire Phone was nothing short of a disaster as the device was little more than a glorified Amazon storefront. The relatively lesser-known HTC First, which was centered around Facebook, also failed to get any traction as most people were fine using the official Facebook app. Maybe the smartphone won't be all about TikTok and offer completely different. Only time will tell.