TikTok’s owner ByteDance may have grander ambitions as reports claim that the company is working on its smartphone. According to sources quoted by the Financial Times, who maintained anonymity, ByteDance, the company behind the video-sharing platform TikTok, is building a smartphone that would come pre-loaded with the company’s several apps.
Early this year the Beijing-based company had confirmed a deal with phone maker Smartisan, claiming to acquire a patent portfolio and also hired some Smartisan employees. ByteDance says this would help it “explore the education business.” A spokesperson from Bytedance declined to comment on the matter, but the rumor is hardly a surprise as the ByteDance smartphone pre-installs have long been a popular way for Chinese internet companies to ramp up user sizes.
The company is rapidly extending its reach to include a range of services, and they’re not just niche apps like TikTok. Earlier this month, ByteDance also launched a new chat app called Feiliao, or Flipchat, enabling users to communicate via instant messaging and groups catered around their interests. ByteDance in January also launched Duoshan, a video chatting app that closely mirrors Snapchat.
The report, however, doesn’t offer many details about the ByteDance smartphone’s design or intended market, although it does suggest that ByteDance could be hampered by the US government’s hostility toward Chinese telecommunication companies.