Taking a byte Out of TikTok

A breakdown of the new 6-second video app "byte"

On Friday, Dom Hofmann (cofounder of Vine), released a new app, byte:

Its videos are only 6 seconds, compared to most on TikToks, which are 15 seconds long (can be up to a minute long). The 6-second limit was a feature not a bug in the eyes of Vine fans, and byte users have already started to embrace it:

From a creator experience byte is overall a far more simple experience, shown below. The recording feature is limited with only a record button. It has none of the TikTok features; music, duets, video filters, face filter. It seems byte is making a bet that people don’t want highly edited videos, they want videos with quick punchlines and fast reveals. I’m not convinced that Byte will be able to win content creators over without the fully-featured creation tools that are on TikTok. However, there’s a subgenre of TikTok that reposts Vines, so maybe we will see them move over and enjoy a new home.

From a consumer perspective, I’ve liked the content I’ve seen on so far and a few old Vine stars have already started to make content on the platform. It’s easy to go fast on byte since everything is 6 seconds but I do think giving 15 seconds for a video gives some needed freedom. Creators can’t always set up a joke and deliver a punchline in 6 seconds.

TikTok is famous for it’s endless “For You” tab. While you can follow people and look at trends, the average consumer watches in the “For You” tab. The mighty algorithm at TikTok controls all. This leads to interesting things like people’s first posts getting millions of views despite not having any follows, but it also leads to others’ posts being shadowbanned. If you haven’t used TikTok, think of the “For You” tab as the Facebook algorithm on steroids.

byte, on the other hand, relies on following others and “rebyte”ing, which is similar to a retweet. While this makes for more relationship-centric content, it doesn’t seem to support the same viral moments that have made TikTok the cultural center it is. It feels like Twitter in a world where TikTok is Facebook like. It is lighter feature-wise, less algorithmic, and more relationship-focused.

At the end of the day, it’s Vine 2.0, which some may like, but personally, after over a year of using TikTok, seems limited. Given it’s focused on the creator/consumer relationships, one huge area that byte has the change to capitalize on is the partner program (something that TikTok has yet to do):

If byte can focus on helping creators monetize from the start, I think it has the opportunity to create a large, healthy, and prosperous community. Even so, I don’t think we will see TikTok lose any momentum any time soon. Given it’s only been out since Friday, it will be interesting to watch byte grow. There’s a lot of product nostalgia with byte and I’m curious to see if that can be converted into longtime product use. There will be a lot to unpack in the future.

Let me know what your thoughts are by replying to this email. Have you tried byte yet? Will a partner program help them grow? Would you pay for a byte?

Until next Sunday,
Ben