Byte is the creation of Dom Hofmann, who also co-founded Vine in the summer of 2012 – which was later sold to Twitter. Vine failed to find a way to make its service profitable and was eventually discontinued in 2016. Despite being short-lived, Vine became a cultural touchpoint in the United States, with many users remembering its 6-second time frame as an innovation challenge.
According to a report from Sensor tower, Byte became the number one free iPhone app in the U.S. app store last Friday and still tops the list; it also ranks top in Canada. The iOS app is in the top ten in Australia, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom. In Android's Play Store, Byte ranks sixth among free apps in the United States.
The timing of Byte's release coincides with the news from the United States that ByteDance is seeking to hire a CEO for TikTok, according to Bloomberg. The company is being reviewed by more and more US lawmakers who are cautious about the impact of Chinese companies on American consumers. It is said that the new CEO will be responsible for TikTok's non-technical functions, including advertising and operations, while the current TikTok CEO Alex Zhu will continue to oversee product and engineering outside China.
Byte was announced two years ago by Dom Hofmann. The app operates under, essentially, the same premise as Vine: Users upload videos set a maximum of six seconds in length. This time around, however, creators will have direct monetization on the content they upload, a missing element from rival TikTok.
Like other social media platforms such as TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram, the main things to do on Byte are to post content that could potentially go viral and to engage others. So far, follower counts are hidden and user profiles can't be shared, making it hard to see who the top creators are. Byte is planning a creator's program to help influencers cash in.
For now, Byte has not entered mainland China, which is home to TikTok’s parent, the rival short video platform known as Douyin. China has stricter guidelines when it comes to social media, which can make it hard for Western companies to find their footing in the market.
TikTok has 500 million active users worldwide according to Datareportal in 2019. That makes TikTok 9th in terms of social network sites, ahead of better-known sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Snapchat.
The latest TikTok statistics from Sensor Tower show that from January to November 2019 the app was downloaded 614 million times. This marks a 6% year-on-year increase from the previous year and clearly on track to exceed 2018’s total number of downloads.