Tencent rolls out a clone of ByteDance’s joke app

Image credit: Tencent

Chinese tech giant Tencent has launched “哈皮” or Hapi (which means happy in English), a clone of ByteDance’s popular joke app Pipixia, in an attempt to win attention from the country’s grassroots users. The app allows users to upload and share a collection of short videos, photos, jokes, and memes.

Apps featuring funny short videos are hugely popular among Chinese netizens. Hapi targets directly at the massive group, but such joke apps may be subject to stricter scrutiny from the country’s cyberspace regulators. ByteDance’s joke app Pipixia, which was launched in August this year, looks suspiciously like Neihan Duanzi, the company’s previous joke app that was shut down permanently for vulgar contents in April. The Chinese government has been making big moves to clean up some of China’s most popular sites and apps.

Built by the team behind Tencent’s QQ browser, Hapi is the latest addition to Tencent’s efforts to explore the booming short video market. The tech giant now has over ten video apps targeting at different user groups, including Weishi, Shanka, DOV, MOKA.

The aggressive foray into short video market puts itself in direct competition with ByteDance, which already has an upper hand in the sector with its AI-powered media empire that includes Douyin, known internationally as Tik Tok, Xigua Video (Watermelon Video) and Vigo Video (Huoshan Video).

The size of China’s short video market jumped 183% year-on-year to RMB 5.73 billion ($825 million) in 2017. The market is expected to reach RMB 35.58 billion by 2020, according to Chinese research institute iResearch.

In addition to gaining supremacy in an emerging market, entering the short video market is of more importance for Tencent to capture and keep the attention of existing users. Conflicts between the two companies were best shown in the public spat between Tencent’s CEO and chairman, Pony Ma and ByteDance CEO Zhang Yiming earlier this year, a move rarely seen among tech moguls.