Douyin, ByteDance’s Chinese version of TikTok, launched a web version of the short video app on Monday. The mobile-focused content giant is seeking more growth on desktop.

Why it matters: Douyin is hitting the ceiling in user numbers. In September 2020, the short video app’s daily active users reached 600 million, which is more than 60% of China’s overall 986 million mobile users in the same period.

  • The web version of Douyin extends the app’s reach to desktop users and potentially poses a threat to established video sites like Bilibili and Tencent Video.

Details: Douyin’s web version lacked a couple of crucial features that may have laid the groundwork for its success on mobile. For example, the mobile app starts playing videos automatically as soon as it is opened. While on the website, users need to click on the video for it to start playing.

  • The homepage of Douyin’s web version features an endless video scroll. On Douyin’s mobile app, users see only one video at a time and have to swipe down to get to the next one, similar to the TikTok app.
  • Like the mobile app, the website also allows users to post videos, make comments, and like videos. The website largely hosts the same content that appeared on the mobile app. The site features more horizontal versions of the video, while the mobile app shows more vertical versions.
  • Douyin’s mobile app is powered by ByteDance’s flagship recommendation algorithm, partly contributing to its success. The algorithm provides users content based on their preferences and viewing history. It’s not clear if the algorithm is implemented on the web version.
  • The web version was created to host better educational content, which usually runs at least 5 minutes, ByteDance said in a statement to TechNode, making it much longer than the 15-second short videos that Douyin helped popularize. 
  • ByteDance said the website is still in testing phases, and it will continue “optimizing its features.”

Context: ByteDance said last week that the company booked RMB 236.6 billion ($36.8 billion) in revenue in 2020, up 111% from the previous year, Chinese media Yicai reported. 

  • The total monthly active users of ByteDance apps reached 1.9 billion as of last year’s end, the company said.

Wei Sheng

Wei Sheng is a Beijing-based reporter covering hardware, smartphone, and telecommunications, along with regulations and policies related to the China tech scene. He writes a monthly newsletter tracking...