From the HTC First to the Amazon Fire, software companies usually fail when they enter the smartphone market. ByteDance does not seem impressed by the low success rate and has released a Chinese smartphone, after a number of patents and employees were picked from the smartphone manufacturer Smartisan.
Penetrating the Chinese market for smartphones seems to be a practically impossible task. The competition is fierce and the top five players hold more than 90% of the market. Smaller manufacturers seem to die.
It won’t depend on the financing. The company received US $ 1.3 billion in its last recruitment round. This year it also took over AI music startup Jukedeck.
Making your own phone could be an (expensive) way for ByteDance to create a testing ground for their own apps. The new Smartisan phone has shortcuts to open Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, and allows the user to apply TikTok filters and effects to videos.
The TikTok sauce is no guarantee of success. We saw that before with the HTC Fire, a phone with integrated Facebook functionality. That was at the expense of the “normal” Android user experience with widgets and docks. Users could not get used to it and the HTC Fire flopped.
Amazon“s Fire underwent a similar fate with users who complained that the Amazon functionality was too dominant.
ByteDance, by the way, seems to be dampening expectations about the new phone. It told Reuters in July that the smartphone was part of Smartisan“s plans before the deal and that the company simply wants to meet the demand of existing users.
TikTok fans who want to try the new phone are disappointed. ByteDance says the phone is only for customers in China.