What Is Byte, the App That Just Passed TikTok on App Store Charts?

Byte, a new competitor of TikTok, received over 620,000 downloads on July 9, Sensor Tower says

A TikTok competitor named Byte experienced a record number of installations and passed TikTok on the Apple App Store charts today after President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo both publicly flirted with the idea of banning TikTok from U.S. users.

Sensor Tower data reported Byte’s installation count spiked July 9, when it was downloaded 622,000 times — the most downloads since the app launched in January 2020. “This was the most downloads it has ever seen in a day, up 47 percent from about 422,000 downloads on January 25 right after launch,” Sensor Tower mobile insights strategist Stephanie Chan told TheWrap.

Chan said the download spike was directly related to recent talk of the U.S. banning TikTok. “The spike does correlate with the White House’s comments about a potential TikTok ban in the U.S.,” Chan said. “Anecdotally, on July 8 and 9, we saw a number of user reviews mentioning TikTok, so that also seems to point to the White House’s comments as the reason for the increased interest.”

Chan added that Byte rolled out an update July 6, but that the update was to make minor improvements and fix bugs — “so that update probably doesn’t account for the spike.”

Byte launched in January 2020 and was created by former Vine co-founder and general manager Dom Hofmann. Twitter acquired Vine in fall 2012, and shut down the app’s operations by October 2017. Hofmann began work on Byte in December 2017, originally intending for it to be a clone of Vine. The current Byte app is similar to TikTok, and lets users capture and edit short looped videos to post to social feeds.

Sensor Tower estimates Byte has 2.5 million downloads worldwide on both iOS and Android since its launch.

TikTok has 2.3 billion users globally. The app was originally called Douyin and launched in China in 2016. After acquiring Shangai and Santa Monica-based startup Musical.ly in 2017, TikTok’s Chinese-based parent company ByteDance consolidated the two into one app, rebranding it as TikTok to launch it in the United States in August 2018. The control of TikTok by the Chinese government and concerns that it could use the software to snoop on unsuspecting Americans through their phones is what’s prompted Pompeo and Trump to openly consider a ban.

“This (2.3 billion users) figure also includes the Chinese version of the app, Douyin, and it excludes downloads from third-party Android marketplaces in China,” Chan said of TikTok’s total download count.

Sensor Tower reported TikTok was the most downloaded non-gaming app in June with over 87 million installations — a roughly 53% increase from June 2019.

While it doesn’t come close to TikTok’s user count, Byte is currently the top-ranked free download on the Apple App Store, while TikTok is No. 3, after video conferencing software Zoom. Byte and TikTok did not respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

Hofmann did recently respond to popular game streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, who tweeted he deleted TikTok, claiming it was “data farming” and is run by an “intrusive company.” Blevins added that he did try out Byte, but said, “there’s byte, but I’ve seen it and tried to use it, just not as clean and seamless as TIKTOK. Just waiting (at the moment).” Hofmann simply replied to Blevins, “damn, headshot.”

Byte isn’t the only TikTok competitor to get a boost from skeptical TikTok investors and users. Shares of social media app Snap rose nearly 8% on Tuesday, hitting a high of $25 per share, the highest since its March 2017 IPO.