The social media space is notoriously difficult to enter since established players hold a strong advantage over new entrants in adoption, technology, and user data. Social media networks that succeed at carving out a new niche, however, can become billion-dollar unicorns overnight. As a result, ambitious entrepreneurs regularly try to launch new social media concepts in the hope that they take off rapidly.
Byte completed its launch in January 2020 with the goal of taking on a market similar to the space that TikTok recently took by storm. Many industry analysts and content creators are now looking into the new app extensively to find out why it has grown so quickly and whether it stands a chance of sustaining its success in the years ahead.
Byte is a new video-sharing app that first appeared in early 2019, but it recently became available for all devices in January 2020. When Twitter shut down Vine in 2017 to focus on its core business, Dom Hofmann, the founder of Byte, saw a significant market opportunity. In his opinion, Twitter made a major mistake by shutting down Vine since the concept of sharing small video clips was still in its infancy. The success of Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook videos had demonstrated the potential for video sharing on social media networks, and Hofmann was determined to capitalize on the opportunity.
After several years of development, Byte finally was unveiled to the public in early 2019. At first, the app was primarily used by creators because it was difficult to access for users. With the release of the new app, however, Byte quickly exploded in a way that normally signals that astronomical success is just around the corner.
After Byte launched its new app, it managed to get 1.3 million downloads in just one week. 950,000 downloads came from Apple’s App Store while 350,000 downloads came from the Google Play store. Many industry analysts have compared the launch of Byte with the launch of Vine when it was still an independent company. When Vine released its app, it received 775,000 downloads within the first week. All of Vine’s initial downloads came from Apple’s App Store since it was originally not available on the Android operating system. However, Byte still managed to get 175,000 more downloads than Vine in the App Store segment alone.
As a result of the impressive figures that Byte managed to achieve in its first week, many experts believe that Byte will eventually become more successful than Vine ever was. Dom Hofmann was also a founder of Vine, so he has a thorough understanding of how to design a video-based app that gains traction immediately after launch. Additionally, Hofmann is experienced in growing a video-based app, so it is likely that he will be able to keep the traction going in the months and years ahead.
Byte has suddenly found itself thrust onto the forefront of the social media space, but it faces substantial challenges that could prevent it from realizing its full potential.
The most significant challenge for Byte is that it plans to enable users to monetize their content immediately. Although Byte has managed to raise funding, it will quickly burn through its cash if its user base grows too fast. Byte would most likely find it easier to do another funding round if it achieved rapid growth, so the cost of compensating creators will not be a serious issue as long as the app continues to grow exponentially. On the other hand, if growth starts to lag behind, Byte could quickly find itself with a shortfall of cash and few investors looking to hand over more money.
Users who flood comment streams to increase their follower count are another major issue that Byte is facing. Byte was focused on developing its initial app, so it was unprepared to moderate content for an enormous user base. Experts forecast that Byte will clean up its moderation issues by the end of 2020, but the lack of sufficient moderation in the short term could hurt long-term adoption.
Byte also has to worry about the potential for competing apps like TikTok to take over its niche. Snapchat experienced astronomical growth in its initial stages and was projected to become one of the largest tech companies in the world until Facebook swallowed Snapchat’s market by introducing similar functionality with its competing app, Instagram. Byte could easily face similar competitive pressure if it is unable to consolidate adoption among the 1.3 million users who are already using its app.
Even though Byte can be seen as an innovative app, it is substantially similar to TikTok. Therefore, the only way Byte can grow is to take market share away from TikTok in the video-sharing space. Taking market share from an established rival has historically been nearly impossible in the social media app world. Consequently, although Byte is doing great so far, the new app faces a long road ahead if it seeks to become the next unicorn.