The company behind TikTok - one of the most popular apps of the moment - is supposedly planning to launch its own smartphone.
Details are scarce about this upcoming device, but we're keeping track of all the latest news, rumours, leaks, and official statements from the company right here. Consider this your one-stop-shop for all things TikTok phone. And if you want to know more about TikTok itself, including its origin story and how it works, check out our in-depth guide on the app here.
TikTok phone: What's the story so far?
ByteDance, the Chinese company behind TikTok, is best known for acquiring the app Musical.ly and merging it into TikTok, which is gaining significant attention. Reports now claim ByteDance is looking to launch its own phone, which could come with its various apps pre-installed. Although few details have emerged, it's suspected the device will be a budget phone for Chinese users only.
ByteDance confirmed its smartphone would not launch in the US, according to a Forbes report quoting a ByteDance spokesperson. ByteDance reportedly said that earlier news about the company planning to produce a smartphone through Smartisan was misunderstood.
“Reports of our smartphone development strictly refer to a continuation of plans that were in place before ByteDance began working with Smartisan. The focus is on meeting the needs of Smartisan’s existing customer base in China,” ByteDance told Forbes. From the sound of the report, a phone is still in development, but ByteDance doesn't want it to launch globally or to compete with leading devices.
Now, Gizmodo is also claiming he phone “has no connection with TikTok” - so, at this point, it's unclear a TikTok-branded phone is in the works.
ByteDance finally confirmed it would indeed make a phone, according to Reuters. Perhaps that's no surprise. ByteDance recently acquired some technology patents of Smartisan - a nearly four-year-old Chinese phone maker - and this is simply the company putting its ducks in a row. Whether that device will be a 'TikTok Phone' developed by Smartisan, specifically, isn't 100 per cent confirmed.
Keep in mind it's also been reported TikTok could launch a paid music streaming service in the near future, as sourced from a Bloomberg report. A free sign-up with a phone purchase would be a no-brainer as a sales point. However, while TikTok is a successful app, it's not universally known. And we've seen others stumble before: Facebook's integration in the HTC ChaCha, and Amazon launching its own Fire Phone.
The Financial Times claimed ByteDance has long wanted to build its own smartphone, leveraging patents, and employees it acquired following its purchase of Smartisan, a little-known Chinese smartphone manufacturer. If the phone goes ahead, it would be preloaded with ByteDance's apps. However, people can already download and use TikTok on any phone, as well as any of its other apps.
Our initial impression is that it can't succeed unless ByteDance makes it a truly compelling device to own. On the flip side, it is rumoured that the so-called TikTok phone will be aimed at the more affordable end of the market. This could ultimately be the one way it does manage to sell a decent number of devices: by being affordable, and being a hip, trendy brand.
TikTok phone: Release date
A release date has yet to leak out or even be confirmed at this point. And, by the sounds of it, the phone from ByteDance will only launch in China, and may not even make it to western markets.