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Mar 20, 2024
(Updated on
Mar 20, 2024

TikTok Is Supposedly Testing an Instagram-Style Photo App

TikTok, the popular short-form video platform, appears to be gearing up for a potential challenge against Instagram with the rumoured development of a new app called "TikTok Photos." According to reports by The SpAndroid, traces of this new feature have been found within the code strings of the current TikTok app. The indications suggest that TikTok users might soon have the option to share their still images on this new platform. The potential introduction of TikTok Photos aligns with TikTok's recent integration of a "photo mode" for still images within its main platform. Additionally, the welcome message found in the app's code hints at TikTok's intention to synchronize users' public photos to the new app automatically, further emphasizing the platform's focus on photo sharing.

Photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash

This development also reflects broader trends in the Chinese app market. China's equivalent of Instagram, Xiaohongshu, backed by Tencent, has experienced significant success, particularly after integrating eCommerce features. With Xiaohongshu surpassing expectations in revenue and amassing a large user base, there's a clear precedent for social media platforms incorporating eCommerce functionalities. Douyin, the Chinese counterpart of TikTok, has also been emphasizing the importance of still image posts, albeit not as aggressively. However, the success of Xiaohongshu might be prompting ByteDance, TikTok's parent company, to prioritize this aspect more.

The question arises: can TikTok Photos effectively compete, especially in markets where Instagram already dominates? While it's challenging to envision TikTok Photos overtaking Instagram in established markets, there could be potential for synergy with TikTok's existing in-stream shopping features. By integrating eCommerce elements into the photo-sharing experience, TikTok Photos might carve out its own niche and appeal to a specific demographic interested in seamless shopping experiences within social media platforms.

ByteDance's willingness to experiment with new apps is evident from its previous ventures, such as Lemon8, a platform resembling Instagram with a strong eCommerce focus. Although Lemon8 initially garnered significant interest upon its U.S. launch, its momentum has dwindled. However, a TikTok-branded photo app could potentially perform better, leveraging TikTok's established user base and brand recognition to drive adoption and engagement, particularly in Western markets. Additionally, the timing of this potential launch may be influenced by external factors, such as TikTok's uncertain future given the talks about the TikTok ban. Facing the possibility of bans or regulatory restrictions, ByteDance might be inclined to introduce TikTok Photos sooner rather than later to test the waters and diversify its offerings before potential disruptions to its primary platform.

While details are still scarce, the emergence of TikTok Photos suggests ByteDance's strategic focus on enhancing its eCommerce appeal through image-based social media platforms. By leveraging the popularity of TikTok and incorporating elements from successful Chinese apps like Xiaohongshu, ByteDance aims to stay competitive, but whether TikTok Photos will achieve widespread adoption and success remains to be seen.

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