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Just a few years ago, Vine seemed like the freshest, most creative app on the Internet. Those viral six-second Vine clips seemed to be everywhere until Twitter eventually decided to pull the plug on the app. Given the amount of fame that Vine acquired during its brief existence, it’s no wonder that other popular social media apps like Snapchat, Instagram and now TikTok have made short, creative video clips a mainstay of their user experience. If you’re a connoisseur of the viral video clip, it will probably be huge news that a Vine reboot known as Byte is now making its way around social media circles. Given the increasingly crowded viral video space, however, will Byte really win over content creators?
Do content creators prefer monetization options or extensive features?
One big question for Byte to address is what content creators really want out of an app. On one hand, content creators want a lot of rich features in order to showcase their creative chops. That’s where TikTok has a huge advantage – it offers all sorts of augmented reality filters, transition effects and other bonus features. Do you really want your videos to look like they’re from 2016?
However, Byte is promising much more in the way of monetization options, and this is what could lure away content creators. As of now, neither TikTok nor Snapchat offers any direct monetization features. You’re essentially creating content for the sake of creating content (and amusing your friends). However, Byte says that it will unveil a monetization feature for users based around revenue sharing. Essentially, if Byte makes money from ads, users will make money from ads.
Can Byte overcome user inertia?
Let’s face it, once you’ve invested your time, energy or attention in an app, it’s awfully hard to switch to another app that offers essentially the same type of experience. Economists even have a term for it – “switching costs” – and it helps to explain why people continue to use inferior (but familiar) products, even when a better option exists. Put into layman’s terms, this can basically be summarized as: People are lazy, and if it’s too much trouble to change, then they won’t. Ever wonder why some companies make it so hard to leave for a competitor? They know that it’s hard for users to leave a product or company for only an incremental upgrade. There’s just too much inertia to overcome.
If you apply this thinking to Byte, you can see why the app might not become as popular as you might think. A few years ago, Instagram didn’t offer video, Snapchat was still relatively unknown, and TikTok didn’t exist. Now, all of those apps have expanded in popularity, and there are a whole host of TikTok clones (e.g. Dubsmash, Firework). Facebook even has a TikTok-style app called Lasso, and it’s easy to assume that CEO Mark Zuckerberg will either use Instagram or Lasso to rope in users and keep them away from Byte.
But there is one big wildcard in this equation, and that’s China. You see, TikTok is a Chinese app, and Byte is an American app. If you’re a true American patriot, which app would you prefer to use? The same people who love to “buy American” will now have an option to “download American.” That might be all the push that people need to migrate their content away from TikTok and over to Byte, the new/old Vine.