Bytedance company overview

Bytedance (字节跳动) is a Chinese internet technology company headquartered in Beijing. It was founded by Zhang Yiming in 2012.

ByteDance claims to be “one of the first companies to launch machine learning-based mobile products, to combine the potential of artificial intelligence with the growth of the internet for mobile devices and revolutionize the way people have access to information.”

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And although many believe that TikTok is the flagship product of the now no longer Chinese startup, in reality the most important product of ByteDance in China is Jinri Toutiao.


ByteDance first launched Douyin for the China market in September 2016. Later, TikTok was launched in 2017 for iOS and Android in markets outside of China.

TikTok and Douyin are similar to each other, however they run on separate servers to comply with Chinese censorship restrictions.

  • After merging with, downloads rose and TikTok became the most downloaded app in the US in October 2018, the first Chinese app to achieve this.
  • As of 2018, it was available in over 150 markets and in 75 languages. In February 2019, TikTok, together with Douyin, hit one billion downloads globally, excluding Android installs in China.
  • In 2019, media outlets cited TikTok as the 7th-most-downloaded mobile app of the decade, from 2010 to 2019. It was also the most-downloaded app on the App Store in 2018 and 2019.
  • Since May 2020, Kevin Mayer is CEO of TikTok and COO of parent company, ByteDance. Previously he was chairman of the Walt Disney Direct-to-Consumer & International.

Why is Douyin important for brands?

Douyin is the best tool to present a product. In fact, Douyin has often proven to be a strategic ally for international brands in China.

Douyin represents an opportunity for companies, especially international ones. Thanks to its original content, in fact, it contributes to increasing brand awareness of brands and gaining consumer confidence.

Mini-videos are the new trend in China. They are particularly loved for their ability to transmit direct and impactful messages, which show the brand’s creativity and which involve users. For this reason, the use of Douyin within the digital marketing strategy of a foreign company can bring particular benefits.

Companies can increase their brand awareness on Douyin in two ways: adv advancing on the platform or collaborating with KOLs.

The second alternative is certainly the most expensive, but also the most profitable. Chinese influencers know their audience and tastes very well, which makes them able to communicate effectively with it.


ByteDance’s core product, Toutiao, is a content platform in China and worldwide. Toutiao started out as a news recommendation engine and gradually evolved into a platform delivering content in a variety of formats, such as texts, images, question-and-answer posts, microblogs, and videos.

Toutiao is a very popular news aggregator that uses artificial intelligence to track readers’ habits and provide them with the best stories based on their preferences, drawing them from different sources.

A service widely criticized for the “clickbait” nature of much of its content, but which since 2012 (the year in which it was launched), has accumulated hundreds of millions of active users every day: a real mine of gold for Big Data, which has collected data so significant as to make its algorithmic approach possible also to content and products outside the Asian country.

In China, the most popular search engine continues to be Baidu, with 76% market share. However, soon the Beijing giant could find itself facing ByteDance and its Toutiao Search, it is the search engine for China of the Douyin company.

An integral part of the ByteDance news aggregator, the new search engine has long been reachable via computers and mobile devices, and works completely independently of the other company services, while returning a mix of results from both resources on the net that from the contents published in the ByteDance applications, including Douyin.

Why is Toutiao important for brands?

Toutiao has a dynamic ecosystem that covers short-videos to content creation and curation platforms.

  • Toutiao is able to aggregate the short videos in order to give brands a wide selection of tools to get creative and increase brand awareness on the platform.
  • Geo-targeting on Toutiao can also give brands the upper hand if they want to utilize the app to the fullest. 
  • On Toutiao brands can have access to Toutiao’s 700 million registered users that are constantly using the app.

Bytedance collaboration with Smartisan

The connection between hardware company Smartisan and ByteDance dates back to late 2018, when the former was in trouble. ByteDance has started cooperating with Smartisan in January 2019. The company acquired a number of smartphone-maker’s patents to expand and develop its online education business.

Smartisan has filed a total of 64 patents since 2013, spanning voice-recognition technology, a keypad for mobile devices and a fingerprint scanner.

Bytedance “Smartisan Jianguo Pro3” smartphone

Smartisan was developing this smartphone before ByteDance acquired its team. They continued working on it as part of the previous plan to meet demands of Smartisan users.

In January, the Tik-Tok owner acquired numerous tech-related patents from Smartisan and in November 2019 Chinese tech giant Bytedance, launched its first phone.

It’s called the Smartisan Jianguo Pro 3 (‘Jianguo’ translates to ‘nut’ in Mandarin). It is characterized by the fact that you can directly open TikTok’s Chinese version, DouYin, by just swiping up from the lock screen. 

Bytedance new infotainment vehicle system

What is the Infotainment system?

Long gone are the days when a simple radio in your car would suffice. A tape deck or maybe even a CD player was once considered a premium upgrade. Today’s vehicles offer much more in the form of infotainment systems. This new word in the English language is a catch-all term for the music, media and information systems of today’s vehicles.

Infotainment systems often connect to your smartphone and other devices. They provide hands-free phone use, a connection to your favorite media and more. They usually feature a large screen that will also display useful information about your vehicle. This may include safety information, sensor warnings and more. It may also display maps and directions.

The IoV uses all kinds of interconnectivity for creating a social network with smart objects as participants. This leads to the existence of the Social Internet of Vehicle (SIoV). Essentially that’s the vehicular instance of the Social IoT (SIoT).

Bytedance infotainment vehicle

ByteDance has paired up with Smartisan to launch its vehicle infotainment. In fact, TikTok’s creator is currently building a team to focus on IoV development, which is now composed of around 20 employees. The research and development (R&D) talents for the IoV team are former employees of smartphone maker Smartisan, who joined the company after ByteDance acquired Smartisan in early 2019.

ByteDance is set to roll out its own in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) system, where it will integrate some of its most popular products, such as news aggregator Jinri Toutiao and short-video app Douyin, making a foray into the Internet of Vehicles (IoV) sector in China, tech site 36Kr reported on Monday.

As a special application of the Internet of Things (IoT), IoV focuses on the automotive industry, allowing vehicles to communicate in real-time with drivers, other vehicles, pedestrians, roadside infrastructure, and fleet management systems. These applications could have a wide range of benefits, including increasing road safety.

IVI is considered a small part of IoV systems and is mostly employed to deliver entertainment and information to the driver and passengers via video and audio interfaces, through platforms such as voice recognition software, touch screen displays, and others. The IVI market is expected to hit USD 30.47 billion by 2022.

Aside from the advantages in online contents, the company has also tapped areas like cloud computing, AI and big data. Its $30 million worth of investment in the EV startup Leading Ideal’s Series C funding round is deemed part of efforts to deploy the IoV business.

Baidu market competitors

Chinese tech companies are pushing aggressively into car connectivity amid a rising demand from users for in-vehicle entertainment and real-time communication, as demands from driving ease with improved driver-assistance capabilities.

ByteDance is a latecomer in the IoV sector in China, which is already occupied by players including Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent.


Baidu announced in June 2019 that its DuerOS for Apollo., a comprehensive IoV solution platform for mass-production, has partnered with over 60 automotive manufacturers across over 300 car models.


Alibaba’s AI research division, Alibaba A.I. Labs, formed a partnership with BMW, Audi, Renault, and Honda to integrate Tmall Genie Auto, an artificial intelligence solution, into some of these companies’s vehicles, allowing users to access a variety of voice-controlled information and services.


Tencent released a car version of its super app WeChat in August last year, in partnership with Changan Automobile. The app allows drivers to make calls and dictate text to send messages through a button in the steering wheel.

What automotive brands should do when entering the Chinese market?

Given the importance of infotainment systems in today’s vehicles, when a brand enters the Chinese market, it must take into account the Chinese digital world and Chinese car version apps like Wechat, Tmall Genie Auto and DuerOS to be successful on this market.

That’s why many western companies like BMA, Audi, Honda, Renault and Apollo automobil are adopting these artificial intelligence solutions in their market strategies.

Do you want to know more about How to market your brand in the Chinese automotive market? Contact GMA a digital marketing agency, specialized in Chinese digital market.

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