What if ByteDance had an ace up its sleeve in the event that TikTok was eventually banned in the United States? As we picked up this week, Shou Zi Chew, the CEO of TikTok, stated in his testimony before the U.S. Congress that the company intends to pursue an initiative known as Project Texas that would safeguard the data of U.S. users in the U.S. and prevent access by foreign agents. But what if the ban came before this idea could materialize?
Faced with this, ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, may have a plan B: Lemon8. This app, which has gone almost unnoticed until a few days ago, is already number 9 in the General category of the US App Store, and everything points to it being an attempt by ByteDance not to lose TikTok’s user base if TikTok is finally vetoed in the US.
According to TechCrunch, the app is considered a “lifestyle community” and would be a sort of combination of Instagram and Pinterest. Launched in March 2020 on both Android and iOS without any kind of announcement, Lemon8 could be uploaded to the app stores as a test, to see the public’s reception. Since its launch, the app has garnered 16 million downloads worldwide, with Japan being its main market with 38% of installations.
The most striking thing about this case is that Lemon8 has gone from being in the shadows to positioning itself at the forefront of the app world. How? By paying. In an alleged effort to increase its visibility before TikTok can be banned, ByteDance is reportedly investing heavily in influencer marketing, paying TikTok content creators to advertise Lemon8 in their videos.
Would it be a good alternative to TikTok? It should be noted that U.S. lawmakers could also include this app alongside other Chinese apps, should the bill that would ban TikTok go forward. Still, even though Lemon8 is not a short video app as such, it could be an attempt to capture TikTok’s huge user base should its time come in the US.
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