Back in 2017 Dom Hoffman, Co-Creator of Vine, announced he was working on a successor to the company. And finally, as of the 25th January 2019, Byte was launched, which, essentially, is the same as Vine just with updated features and focus.
As explained by Byte:
“We’re bringing back 6-second looping videos and the community that loved them. You know the drill: Upload from your camera roll or use the byte camera to capture stuff. Stay under the time limit and get lost in the loop. Explore what’s loved by the community, handpicked by our human editors, or just served up at random. There are lots of ways to discover surprising new personalities, voices, and moments.”
As Byte is a more updated version of Vine, this means that it’s similar to TikTok; although at the moment, it lacks any of the additional AR, effects or remixes that are available on the ever increasingly popular video app. TikTok also allows for longer uploads, which would give it an edge. However, Vine’s 6-second time limit worked well the first time around, so perhaps it’ll prove to be popular, making Byte the next big hit.
Twitter bought Vine back in 2012, and many people attribute the app’s decline and eventual shut down to them, yet this actually only played a small part in its demise. What led to Vine’s downfall was that its most popular creators (King Bach, Logan Paul and Amanda Cerny to name a few), moved from Vine to other platforms that would allow them to monetise their content. Because of this move, the average number of monthly users plummeted. Even with the addition of pre-roll ads and the time limit increase to 140 seconds for selected creators, it didn’t matter; Twitter had decided to close the app. But there’s a key factor that many app creators seem to forget, that monetising short-form is hard and no platform has got it perfect yet.
Dom Hoffman knows this and has said from the start that Byte will invest in its creators and ensure that they’ll get paid, even if it has to dip into its own funding to make sure this happens. Which, although admirable, does seem like a rather large risk, especially considering that TikTok for all its hype, still hasn’t worked out how it’ll monetise for its top stars.
But that’s the key egg that needs to be cracked. Short-form video is engaging and has proven to be popular, however, long-form video enables greater revenue generation. Snapchat struggled for a long time to work out its monetisation options for its creators, all while Instagram added IGTV, a potential means to supplement the main feed and compete with YouTube. When creators get to a certain level in their popularity, they tend to look across and see other creators doing similar content to theirs on another platform, for more money, that’s when things tend to get complicated very quickly.
This is one of many concerns for TikTok – which is experimenting with longer videos to better facilitate monetisation – and until Byte’s creator compensation programme is fully realised and running, it’ll remain a concern for that app too.
Byte certainly looks engaging and is currently getting some early hype, but if it’s enough to drag users away from TikTok, that’s still to be seen.
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