Stepping into the video-sharing limelight
Media | A U.S. platform challenges TikTok’s dominance
by Collin Garbarino
Posted 10/13/20, 04:42 pm
A homegrown app called Triller plans to capitalize on TikTok’s troubles and establish itself as the go-to platform for sharing dance clips—and it’s willing to pay big bucks.
Chinese tech giant ByteDance in 2016 introduced TikTok, an app that allows users to combine short videos with catchy music. The app’s popularity grew steadily among young people, and its user base exploded when governments around the world imposed COVID-19 lockdowns. Charli D’Amelio, 16, is one of TikTok’s most valuable influencers with more than 90 million followers. Last month, Triller provided her with a leased Rolls Royce for becoming a new user.
Los Angeles-based content creators who switch to Triller regularly receive free food, transportation, and even rent, The New York Times reported. Executives offered the Sway Boys—a 5 million–follower account featuring dance routines and pranks—equity in the company for switching. They also named 18-year-old member Josh Richards the company’s chief strategy officer. The influencers can still post to TikTok as long as they tell their followers about Triller and post more often on the newer app.
Triller’s investors are looking to make a move while TikTok fights court battles. Governments have scrutinized TikTok over security and privacy concerns, particularly the possibility the Chinese government could force ByteDance to disclose user data. Over the summer, India banned TikTok following a border dispute with China, and President Donald Trump threatened to do the same unless ByteDance sold the app to a U.S. company. A federal judge temporarily blocked the president’s move, but the Justice Department appealed last week. Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr. have created accounts and released political videos on Triller. Artists such as Snoop Dogg, Lil Wayne, and The Weeknd have signed on, as well.
Only time will tell if Triller can spend its way into market dominance. Social media apps need users to stay viable, and TikTok has almost 700 million active users compared to Triller’s reported 65 million—a number some internet analytics companies suspect is inflated. The Wall Street Journal reported the newer app might actually have fewer than 200,000 active users.
Meanwhile, Triller hopes that combining the traditional model of spending money on content creation and distribution with the user creativity of social media will boost its popularity while the government eliminates the competition.
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Collin is a correspondent and movie reviewer for WORLD. He is a World Journalism Institute, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Louisiana State University graduate, and he teaches at Houston Baptist University. Collin resides with his wife and four children in Sugar Land, Texas. Follow him on Twitter @collingarbarino.