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Beyond Entertainment: Kuaishou's New Video App for Minors
Beyond Entertainment: Kuaishou's New Video App for Minors
Kuaishou headquarters in Beijing. Image credit: AP photos.

The short-video and live streaming company Kuaishou (快手) has launched a new short video app named 'Kuaishou Qing Chun Ji' (快手青春记, Kuaishou Youth Note) for teenager users. Unlike Kuaishou's original app, it features instrumental musical performances, calligraphy learning, school subjects and historical stories. The new app also contains sections such as news, sport, common knowledge and psychology. The contents are determined by human moderation and boast none of the typically popular short video content, such as dance or prank videos.

Moreover, there's a limitation on usage. The app can be used for a maximum of 40 minutes, between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. per day. If a user tries to open the app outside of these time frames, a pop-up banner on the screen says, ''It's too late. Please get an early night. Come after 6 a.m. tomorrow.'' In addition, teenaged users can follow content creators and like videos but are not allowed to post comments or create their own videos.

Kuaishou aims to achieve two main objectives with this new app: profiting from the rising online education market and competing with its biggest rival – ByteDance (字节跳动有限公司) – by attracting specific audiences.

On the one hand, online education is one of the fastest expanding markets in China. In 2015, the number of Chinese online education users equaled 110 million, with a market value of RMB 114 billion. By 2018, the number of online learners grew 63% to 179 million while the market value more than doubled to CNY 300 billion. According to UBS's estimation, this trend will continue to grow, and the market value will increase to CNY 714 billion by 2025.

According to the consultancy firm iResearch, although online education makes up less than 10 percent of the total market share of the education industry, it grew into a USD 36 billion business in China in 2018. There are 135 million paying users of online education services in China, a number which is expected to more than double to 296 million by the end of 2020.

The market is expected to be worth as much as CNY 433 billion (USD 62 billion). Therefore, influenced by these developments, Kuaishou wants to enter to the market and plans to support creators to upload paid courses in the future.

On the other hand, industry watchers claim that, the new app is part of Kuaishou's competitive differentiation strategy to gain popularity among youngsters against its rival company, ByteDance. The Kuaishou app competes with ByteDance's short-video app Douyin (抖音), the Chinese version of TikTok. Although ByteDance's TikTok is taking over the overseas market against Kuaishou’s Kwai, Kuaishou is still ByteDance's biggest competitor in the domestic market.

In 2019, Kuaishou had 195 million daily active users and 410 million monthly active users. Both numbers were up more than 54% over the last year, said a person close to the company. In order to keep this growth in the domestic market, Kuaishou is trying to attract new users with educational content as short- videos become mainstream.

However, China's online education market is fierce – with various apps providing homework assistance, learning through gaming and video chats and so on – and time will show whether Kuaishou's Qing Chun Ji will be successful or not. But for now, the new app seems to be designed to just gain popularity among minors.

Editor: Luke Sheehan

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