China’s ByteDance launches video chat app Duoshan to take on Tencent’s WeChat

ByteDance enters China’s social messaging market.

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China’s ByteDance launches video chat app Duoshan to take on Tencent’s WeChat

Chinese internet technology company ByteDance announced Tuesday a new video-based social messaging app called Duoshan, marking its first attempt at challenging Tencent’s social messaging dominance in China. The two companies have locked horns in heated competition in areas like online short video since last year.

What Doushan does is simple and straightforward, it lets users send short video-based messages to each other just like the way they exchange text or image messages via WeChat or Snapchat.

However, Duoshan takes a unique approach to mobile messaging, as the app only allows a video message to be visible for 72 hours after being sent. Additionally, it doesn’t support functions commonly seen on other social media platforms, including public likes and comments, those will be sent directly to a user from their friends. The purpose of this function design seems to aim at encouraging intimacy and interaction between friends.

Beijing-based ByteDance launches the video-based messaging app at a time right ahead of the upcoming 5G era, expecting that much faster mobile connection – theoretically 5G is supposed to be as much as 1,000 times faster than 4G – will lead to a tidal change of consumer behaviours switching from text and image based messaging to short videos.

Duoshan, which targets Chinese users who were born after 1990 per a Reuters article, is the latest Chinese tech giant entrant into the crowded social messaging market.

In August, Chinese entrepreneur Luo Yonghao launched a social messaging app dubbed Bullet Messaging to take on WeChat. The app has received some early sign of popularity upon its launch, topping the Chinese free app ranking on Apple’s China App Store. Yet the quick win only lasted for 3 weeks.

App Annie’s statistical data revealed Bullet Messaging’s dramatic fall from the top positioned app to the 95th by September. Tencent who has more than a billion users remains as the most dominant social messaging app in China today.

Currently, only Android users can log on to Duoshan using their TikTok account. iOS users will have to wait.

Duoshan Interface.

ByteDance was founded in Beijing in March 2012. It owns the news aggregator app Jinri Toutiao as well as the popular short video platform TikTok, which is known as Douyin in China.

Douyin was released in September 2016. It then became one of the Chinese apps that gained tractions both in China and globally. By Q1 2018, Tik Tok, its international version, became the most downloaded iOS app with 45.8 million downloads, surpassing Facebook, Youtube, and Instagram, according to research firm Sensor Tower.

Domestically, Douyin’s monthly active users (MAU) has grown from more than 400 million monthly active users in September 2018 to more than 500 million to date.

Last May, a heated exchange between the companies’ CEOs on WeChat spilled into the courtroom, with Tencent’s Pony Ma accusing ByteDance’s Zhang Yiming of defamation whereas ByteDance accused Tencent of using its market monopoly position to weed out competitors from its WeChat ecosystem.

WeChat has blocked the link for its users to download Duoshan in addition to two other social networking services today.

ByteDance is now the world’s most valuable tech startup. The tech firm holds a valuation of US$75 million as of October 2018 and is considering an IPO in Hong Kong this year.

Editor: Brady Ng & Ben Jiang