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ByteDance steers into automobile sector with plans to integrate Douyin and Toutiao into cars

Bytedance is a latecomer in the IoV sector filled with players including Alibaba, Tencent, and Baidu.

ByteDance is set to roll out its own in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) system, where it will integrate some of its most popular products, such as news aggregator Jinri Toutiao and short-video app Douyin, making a foray into the Internet of Vehicles (IoV) sector in China, tech site 36Kr reported on Monday.

According to the report, TikTok’s creator is currently building a team to focus on IoV development, which is now composed of around 20 employees. The research and development (R&D) talents for the IoV team are former employees of smartphone maker Smartisan, who joined the company after ByteDance acquired Smartisan in early 2019.

ByteDance is also hiring up to five product managers and another five business managers for the team, as posted on the company’s official website. However, such information was no longer accessible on the website on Monday for unknown reasons.

“We are currently exploring the technical solutions to optimize our applications and services for the in-vehicle environment,” said ByteDance when contacted by KrASIA on Monday.

Toutiao to build up a partial paywall for its top-ranked news app in China  
Users might soon enjoy versions of Douyin and Toutiao in their car.  Image credit to Visual China.

As a special application of the Internet of Things (IoT), IoV focuses on the automotive industry, allowing vehicles to communicate in real-time with drivers, other vehicles, pedestrians, roadside infrastructure, and fleet management systems. These applications could have a wide range of benefits, including increasing road safety.

IVI is considered a small part of IoV systems and is mostly employed to deliver entertainment and information to the driver and passengers via video and audio interfaces, through platforms such as voice recognition software, touch screen displays, and others. The IVI market is expected to hit USD 30.47 billion by 2022, according to research by MarketsandMarkets.

ByteDance is a latecomer in the IoV sector in China, which is already occupied by players including Alibaba (NYSE: BABA), Tencent (HKG: 0700), and Baidu (NASDAQ: BIDU)

Alibaba’s AI research division, Alibaba A.I. Labs, formed a partnership with Audi, Renault, and Honda to integrate Tmall Genie Auto, an artificial intelligence solution, into some of these companies’s vehicles, allowing users to access a variety of voice-controlled information and services, KrASIA reported in June 2019.

Also, Tencent released a car version of its super app WeChat in August last year, in partnership with Changan Automobile. The app allows drivers to make calls and dictate text to send messages through a button in the steering wheel, Caixin Global reported.

On the other hand, Baidu announced in June 2019 that its DuerOS for Apollo, a comprehensive IoV solution platform for mass-production, has partnered with over 60 automotive manufacturers across over 300 car models.

36Kr is KrASIA’s parent company