Free Video-Sharing App Byte Aims to Compete with TikTok

Byte, a video-sharing app created by Dom Hofmann, debuted Friday and hit No. 1 for free iOS apps in Apple’s U.S. App Store. Byte, which targets rival ByteDance’s TikTok, is a reboot of the former Vine video-sharing service Hofmann co-founded in 2012 and sold to Twitter that year. Twitter couldn’t find a way to make Vine profitable and shuttered it in 2016. In its short life, Vine became a “cultural touchpoint” as users took on the creative challenge of the six-second format. Byte is also the top free iOS app in Canada.

Bloomberg notes that YouTube star Logan Paul, whose channel has 20+ million subscribers, got his start on Vine. Sensor Tower analyst Randy Nelson reported that Byte is still No. 1 in the U.S. App Store and “was downloaded more than 780,000 times over the weekend, with three quarters of those installs coming from the U.S.”

Byte also “ranks in the top 10 in Australia, New Zealand, Norway and the U.K.” In Android’s Play Store, the app is No. 6 among free apps in the U.S.

Byte’s debut comes as ByteDance — the world’s highest valued startup — is “looking to hire a chief executive officer for TikTok, which is under increasing scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers wary about the influence of Chinese companies on American consumers.”

Senators Chuck Schumer and Tom Cotton wrote a letter stating that the ByteDance app poses “national security risks.” Byte is “starting off small and its community guidelines make several references to the company’s modest budget,” but its strong initial showing “suggests the community that Vine built up remains loyal to the particular six-second format.”

CNET reports that Byte “reportedly [had] a bot problem just days after its release.” In a blog post, Byte co-founder Hofmann noted that, shortly after the Friday release, “users quickly returned with complaints about multiple bot-generated spam comments being left on their posts.” Hofmann stated the company is “aware of the spam issues” and that dealing with it is its “top priority.”

Byte is also “making additional changes to the comment sections, like the ability to like, block, filter and limit comments … [as well as] improving video moderation.” “Once things stabilize, we’ll be back to focusing on new features,” Hofmann wrote. After Twitter shut down Vine, Byte began beta testing in April 2019.