As the future of video-sharing app TikTok remains up in the air, other companies are stepping up to try to fill the void. That’s because security concerns over TikTok’s Chinese ownership caused the Trump Administration to enact a ban on the app starting mid-September. Subsequently, tech giant Microsoft announced that they are pursuing an acquisition of at least some portion of TikTok. Still, with the deadline looming, it looks like TikTok teens might have to do without the app for at least a temporary period. So what will take its place?
Earlier this year, Dom Hofmann announced the launch of Byte. Hofmann was the creator of Vine, the beloved but defunct video app. Now he hopes that Byte will be the ideal stand-in for a world without Vine or TikTok. Viners were originally attracted to the site because of its audio licensing program, but the app never reached high levels of usership. Still, it has seen 1.2 million downloads just in the past few months.
And even if Byte doesn’t emerge as TikTok’s number 1 rival, it is an interesting app in its own right. That could spell a more promising long-term existence.
Reels, which is embedded in the Instagram app, is one of TikTok’s stronger competitors. The feature allows users to make 15-second looping videos.
This copycat is probably the most similar in terms of the look and experience of TikTok. Additionally, by being a part of Instagram, it already has access to a huge user base.
Of course, parent company Facebook has already seen great success in copying other social media platforms and features. Given that leg up, it won’t be surprising if Reels manages to outperform TikTok, even if the latter remains in the U.S.
Though Triller is the oldest of this bunch, it remained relatively unknown until recent weeks. In 2015, Triller came online, offering a place to create music. Its special features for making music videos is what makes it best positioned to rival TikTok’s functionality. In fact, the two apps are so similar that Triller has actually sued TikTok for copying its platform.
Still, Triller is better optimized for creators than for audiences, with a greater focus on editing features. It’s content recommendation algorithms, meanwhile, are not as spot-on as TikTok’s. Still, following the announcement of Trump’s TikTok ban, Triller became the top download in the Apple app store.
Viner Brendon McNerney funded Clash in hopes that it would become a top Vine replacement. The aspect that separates Clash from the rest is that it’s the best platform for creators to monetize their content. McNerney says this is the main focus of the app. He said:
“I saw TikTok take off and hoped that it was going to bring some sort of tools or some sort of atmosphere that would help creators more. Definitely seen a lot of creators grow, but never saw something that was truly for creators that actually helps them make a living, and helps them do what they want and chase those dreams.”
Why Are People Already Switching Over?
A surprising number of people have already flocked to the replacement apps, despite the fact that TikTok is still alive and relatively well. This is for a few reasons.
One of the main drivers for new users of apps like Triller and Byte is username choices. For those who already have large followings, securing their brand name is very important. In the case that TikTok does disappear, popular creators want to ensure that they can seamlessly switch to a new app under the same username.
Another reason people are downloading these apps is the uncertainty surrounding TikTok’s future. Triller stated that it saw a huge surge on July 8th, when Secretary Mike Pompeo announced a potential ban. An even larger surge happened on August 1st, when Trump announced his executive order. These apps typically report a spike in new sign-ups each time TikTok appears in the news.
Finally, it’s important to recognize that the generation that makes up the bulk of TikTok’s user base is generally tech literate, and used to switching between social media platforms. For most young people, there’s little downside to learning a new platform if there’s a chance it could be the next big thing.
Whatever ends up happening with TikTok, one thing is for certain: video-sharing platforms aren’t going anywhere soon.