Briefing: Bytedance reportedly launches reading app

字节跳动推出番茄小说,但产品设计几乎是米读的翻版 – Jiemian

What happened: Bytedance has reportedly released a reading app, “Fanqie Xiaoshu,” which translates literally as “Tomato Novel,” according to media outlet Jiemian. The app offers a wide array of novels for free but includes pages of ads within the books. As of writing, it ranked fourth among free reading apps on Apple’s China App Store. Records Jiemian obtained from app database website showed that the developer previously developed a reading app with a name that translates to “Tomato Reading” with a bundle ID—the identification code for apps in Apple’s ecosystem—that is related to Bytedance. The record has since disappeared from the website, and the company had no comment, according to Jiemian.

Why it’s important: The addition of a novel-based platform further expands Bytedance’s product lineup. Although the app received a number of bad reviews for frequent ads and low-quality content, the fact that it is ranked so highly two months after first appearing on the App Store indicates that it is quickly gaining users. Bytedance has recently made major moves to diversify its business, such as establishing an internal platform to support its live-streaming services and acquiring a Shanghai-based mobile games company.