Byte, the long-awaited follow-up to Vine, launched in a surprise announcement Friday evening. The app is available in the app store for iOS and Android devices, positioning itself as a 6-second “looping video app” from Vine co-founder Dom Hoffman.
Background. Hofmann first declared in 2017 that he was building a successor to Vine – the viral video-sharing app that Twitter acquired in 2012 and discontinued in 2016. Originally dubbed V2, Byte underwent beta testing throughout 2019. Its launch was quietly made official last Friday in a post by Hoffman on the company’s online forum (shown below).
How it works. It’s a familiar drill: users can shoot or upload 6-second videos that play on a loop. The app has all the standard fixings of a social platform, including a home feed, explore page, notifications, and profiles. Byte currently lacks some of the more advanced creative/editing tools that are a staple in apps like TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram.
What to expect. It’s likely those features will roll out in the coming months if Byte plans to keep pace with other micro-video creation apps. Hoffman acknowledged Byte will experience some growing pains over the next few months as it gains users, fixes bugs, and builds new features. Hoffman has also acknowledged spam issues since its launch: “This is our top priority and we’re working very hard to address it. It should be noticeably better than it was 24 hours ago and should continue to improve over the next little while.”
Monetization plans. It’s possible that users are flooding the platform with spam content as a cheap ploy to gain followers early on. Why? Hoffman has made it clear both in forum posts and in an interview with TechCrunch that he plans to focus on monetization options for creators early on. While details are still a bit fuzzy, Byte plans to launch a pilot program for its partners, explaining in a tweet: “Very soon, we’ll introduce a pilot version of our partner program which we will use to pay creators. byte celebrates creativity and community, and compensating creators is one important way we can support both.”
Asked if Byte would offer ad revenue sharing, tipping, or other options to partners, Hofmann told TechCrunch: “We’re looking at all of those, but we’ll be starting with a revenue share + supplementing with our own funds. We’ll have more details about exactly how the pilot program will work soon.”
Why we care. Since its launch less than 36 hours ago, Byte is ranking as the top free app in the iOS app store. This means two things: technical issues are almost guaranteed with the growing traffic load, and TikTok just got pushed down to spot #2.
To be clear, Hoffman doesn’t view Byte as a remake of TikTok. In a post from December, he wrote, “we don’t view tiktok as a competitor in any major way… we have our own plan that we feel great about. it’ll just take some time for that to be fully apparent.”
While the end value for Byte might be totally different from TikTok, a video-sharing app is a video-sharing app. If it’s going to survive, Byte will need to show some serious revenue-generating capabilities (in the form of an ad offering, perhaps?) and will need to cultivate a community that looks and feels completely different from TikTok.
Marketers: keep an eye on this one.