Byte, the ‘new Vine,’ threatens to take a bite out of TikTok
February 26, 2020
Whether you’re still missing the classic Vine memes or hopping on the new trends on TikTok, a new competitor is rising from the depths of the virtual media world: Byte. Created by Dom Hofmann, the co-founder of Vine, this six second video app made its debut in 2019, dubbed as the next Vine or Vine 2.0. But with the fame of TikTok growing, will it be able to survive the competition?
TikTok has gained monumental attention over the past couple of years, garnering rising stars, trends and memes. “I use it because, well, at first I wanted to see what the hype was about it, but now I’m kind of addicted to it. But what’s not to love, it has a lot of funny things and dances and cosplays,” junior Kayden Edwards said.
Reasons for TikTok’s popularity varied. “I like that people can put their own spin on a trend, which can be pretty entertaining to watch, if done correctly,” sophomore Gabrielle Hester said.
The virtual community also played a role. “[The] people on there are respectful and relatable,” Edwards said. Junior Ryan Fernando said, “My favorite part is how closely intertwined everyone is, it’s such a large community, but like everyone is so loving.”
Though discontinued, Vine has proven to be a memorable app, partly due to its community. “[TikTok] can never replace Vine because Vine was such a community, it was so impactful, it changed my life, it made me who I am today,” Fernando said.
Junior Annika Meng said, “[Vine is] long gone, but I feel like its legacy lives on in the endless compilations you can find on Youtube, and the fact that people still regularly quote the popular ones.”
Yet, the question remains: will people actually use Byte, particularly in light of TikTok’s popularity? Byte’s six-second video limit seems to mimic Vine’s abbreviated format, but many question the validity of nostalgia as a business plan. Some are firmly against the new app, choosing to remain loyal to TikTok, or asserting its firm inferiority to Vine. Edwards said, “Byte is a sad excuse of Vine, and doesn’t match up with how good Vine was.”
Another factor that may impede Byte’s potential is its timing. Junior Annika Meng said, “Byte was essentially released at TikTok’s peak, and I think it’s gonna be really difficult to convince people to switch to an entirely new app, when it feels like nearly everyone is already using something else.”
Success for Byte is questionable, both in terms of popularity and users, but it may have a chance. Proponents claim that if Byte’s marketing team plays its cards right, particularly in its critical nascent stage, the app may gain traction with TikTok’s current audience, and ideally also attract new customers. Junior Jonathan Rosemond said, “ You can have a bunch of influencers and famous people use Byte and promote the app.”
Old Vine creators have hopped onto the new app, attracting previous Vine lovers—and even TikTok haters—to Byte. According to Variety, Byte managed to surpass over 1.3 million downloads within the first week of its launch, with 70% of the downloads coming from the United States.
Originality could be another factor to bring in new viewers. “Popularity on TikTok is often built on people reusing the same audio clips and sound effects, so it can get pretty repetitive sometimes,” sophomore Joey Lien said. “I think Byte provides some potential in that area, since users would be inclined to be more creative and original.”
Furthermore, the differences in video lengths are also spurring creativity. “The video duration is pretty short– it’s six seconds, more similar to Vine,” Rosemond said. “This forces people to condense their ideas into a short time span, which involves quick thinking and quick editing.”
There is also a certain level of appeal to a fresh, new app, and Byte’s distinctive algorithm may attract those who are looking for something different from TikTok. Fernando said, “I would definitely take a ‘byte’ out of this new app. Just to test it out, and to see what it’s like other than like Vine. I miss Vine.”