TikTok to absorb Musical.ly app into one new video platform as it targets bigger global audience
New TikTok app will have upgrades such as a reaction feature for friends and enhanced creativity tools, designed to drive its popularity in hot short-form video sector
Beijing ByteDance Technology will merge teen karaoke app Musical.ly with its popular short-video sharing platform TikTok to create one global app under the TikTok brand, in a push to become the world’s go-to destination for short-form video content and creation.
The new app will retain the most popular features of both platforms and existing users will have their account, content and fan base automatically migrated to the new TikTok app, which will have a new logo and interface. The new app includes upgrades such as a “reaction” feature that allows users to react to friends’ videos directly from the phone and enhanced creative tools, the company said in a statement on Thursday.
“Musical.ly recently reached a new milestone of 100 million monthly active users and we are excited to enter into a new chapter,” said Alex Zhu, co-founder of Musical.ly and senior vice-president of TikTok. “Combining Musical.ly and TikTok is a natural fit given the shared mission of both experiences – to create a community where everyone can be a creator.”
TikTok is a short-video sharing platform where users can watch and produce quick videos using music, stickers and animations as effects. It was the most downloaded non-game app in the Apple app store globally in the first quarter of 2018, reaching 45.8 million downloads, according to Sensor Tower, the San-Francisco-based mobile app research firm. The China version of TikTok, called Douyin, will remain as a stand-alone app.
In addition to the new app, TikTok is launching a series of new creator programmes to provide users with technical support, performance insights and guidance on growth strategy. It is also launching a new safety centre, “to build an online experience that feels safe and welcoming,” according to the statement.
Although messaging remains the dominant activity in China on mobile, users have more than tripled the amount of time they spend watching short videos in the last year, according to the China Internet Report co-authored by the South China Morning Post, Abacus and 500 Starups.The number of monthly active users for short video apps in China, where Douyin competes with other platforms such as Tencent Holdings-backed Kuaishou, doubled in 2017 to 414 million, according to the report.
The industry, however, has faced a crackdown on content deemed “vulgar” by Chinese authorities and rising demand for more privacy controls to protect minors.
ByteDance bought Musical.ly, an app popular with American teens, in November last year as part of its strategy to expand beyond China. Both TikTok and Musical.ly allow users to make and share 15-second videos of themselves.
TikTok said earlier this year that it was seeing more diversified video content on its platform, ranging from food to travel, and not just the usual song and dance routines. The video platform’s popularity skyrocketed initially among the Generation Z consumer base in China – those who have reached 18 years old recently – appealing because of its powerful editing tools that help users to easily create and share music videos.
Fierce competition between Bytedance and Tencent in the hot short video and social arena spilled over into a legal fight earlier this year, with Bytedance announcing it had filed two lawsuits against Tencent over alleged anti-competitive behaviour. On the same day, Tencent said it had filed a lawsuit against Bytedance alleging defamation.