Photo credit: ByteDance
Musical.ly fans got a surprise this month - they opened their mobile devices to find that their favorite app had been replaced with a new name and logo: Tik Tok.
Musical.ly, the short clip video app that has a following of about 100 million users since it first launched, was acquired by ByteDance, a Chinese Internet giant. Reports surfaced that the acquisition of Musical.ly late last year was a deal worth a staggering $1 billion. Though this may seem like an insane amount of money, it would appear that ByteDance is merely trying to capitalize on the exponential growth of the app, which was downloaded almost 46 million times within the first four months of 2018 alone. The merger effectively makes Tik Tok a globally accessible app, and it should experience rapid growth in the coming months in terms of usage and traffic.
But the big question is, how much of the previous Musical.ly patrons will be willing to try out the new app?
Current users have been automatically migrated to their new Tik Tok accounts and will be upgraded to Tik Tok as soon as they update their app, according to the company. If you are a huge fan of Musical.ly, fret not. You’ll still be able to do the exact same things from Musical.ly on your device, as soon as the app has been updated. The good news is that from the get-go, you can still lip sync and create micro-music videos and share them for everyone to see. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, and entirely unsurprising.
Originally, the plan was to combine the features of both Musical.ly and Tik Tok, and they have done just that while managing to improve upon them as well. These features include the “reaction” — which allows users to react to friends’ videos directly from the phone. The “reaction” feature is similar to that of Snapchat and Instagram Stories. On top of that, the app will suggest other videos according to your preferences and search history, similar to that of other existing search engines. With such a vast global reach, users are still guaranteed a streamlined flow of information that will, remain an entertaining and user-friendly and app. As of now, the possibilities seem vast, and users will just have to wait and see how the app evolves and eventually comes into its own. More importantly, public reception will dictate the success of the video app.
Musical.ly Community Manager, Teguh Wicaksono, mentioned earlier this year that ByteDance plans to program even more upgrades and features for the app. One of the aims of Tik Tok is to set themselves apart from the rest of the competition. Wicaksono further elaborated that ByteDance will start with creating “AI-based technologies,” which had probably been heavily worked on by the Chinese tech company even before the merger was finalized. AI machines and programming is the bread and butter of ByteDance, which means that Tik Tok users can expect a highly-personalized experience with smart-features and technical capabilities. The merger is simply the beginning of an otherwise ambitious app whose extent could go beyond the Vine-like features of Musical.ly.
Alex Zhou, the co-founder of ByteDance, previously expressed his appreciation for what Musical.ly was able to accomplish before the huge merger. Musical.ly reached the 100 million active monthly user status as of late last year, and this must have played an influential role in ByteDance's decision to acquire the company. Of course, ByteDance has made its fortune by optimizing their AI — catering to the needs of its predominantly Chinese users in creating content, and automated service. ByteDance aims to utilize AI to allow Tik Tok users to freely create entertaining content, as well as to capture life's short, but special moments.
It seems peculiar, however, that the Chinese Internet giant would totally abandon the Musical.ly branding, providing that it has remarkable brand name recognition. It is possible that previous Muscal.ly users might stop using the app altogether because of such a move. According to ByteDance, Tik Tok has over 500 million global users, and this merger is part of their strategy to make it big in the U.S. market. It seems to be such a waste to completely disregard the value of Musical.ly’s past users though. It is entirely possible that Musical.ly users may be alienated by the new look, feel, and design of Tik Tok, and that might cost ByteDance some Musical.ly patrons. In the grand scheme of things, however, the global reach of Tik Tok may just completely change how people view the app entirely.
Are you a big fan of Musical.ly? How do you feel about the big shift to ByteDance’s video app?