Short video mo­bile apps on the rise

China Daily European Weekly - - BUSINESS -

Reg­u­la­tors strength­en­ing over­sight to pre­vent in­ap­pro­pri­ate con­tent and copy­right vi­o­la­tions

them a stage to ex­press them­selves,” says Su Hua, founder and CEO of Kuaishou, adding that the app is looking to im­prove its user ex­pe­ri­ence and at­tract more new users.

Su says 87 per­cent of Kuaishou’s users are from the post-’90s gen­er­a­tion. The app rec­om­mends per­son­al­ized con­tent to users, based on their brows­ing his­tory and pref­er­ences, with the help of ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence tech­nol­ogy and so­phis­ti­cated al­go­rithms.

In March 2017, Kuaishou at­tracted a $350 mil­lion (302 mil­lion euros; £264 mil­lion) in­vest­ment from tech be­he­moth Ten­cent Hold­ings Ltd. It also had re­ceived funding from in­ter­net search gi­ant Baidu Inc and Se­quoia Cap­i­tal in 2016. Their in­vest­ments val­ued Kuaishou at over $3 bil­lion.

Sta­tis­tics from data re­search firm QuestMo­bile show short video plat­forms wit­nessed surg­ing growth in China last year, with users ex­ceed­ing 410 mil­lion — up by 116.5 per­cent from the pre­vi­ous year. To­tal time spent on short video apps ac­counted for 5.5 per­cent of all time spent on mo­bile apps in 2017. That num­ber stood at 1.3 per­cent in 2016.

Kuaishou’s archri­val, Douyin, has also joined the frenzy. The short video app is owned by Bei­jing Bytedance Tech­nol­ogy Co Ltd, which also owns news ag­gre­ga­tor app Toutiao.

Zhang Yim­ing, CEO of Toutiao, says the com­pany in­vested more than 1 bil­lion yuan ($157 mil­lion; 134 mil­lion euros; £117.3 mil­lion) to sup­port pro­duc­ers of high-qual­ity orig­i­nal short videos last year. In ad­di­tion to Douyin, Toutiao also has other short video plat­forms such as Hu­oshan and Xigua.

Fig­ures from mo­bile big data com­pany QuestMo­bile show that by the end of Jan­uary, Kuaishou had 120 mil­lion daily ac­tive users, while Douyin had 62 mil­lion and Hu­oshan had 53 mil­lion.

Ac­cord­ing to con­sul­tancy iiMe­dia, short video plat­forms com­pleted a to­tal of 48 ven­ture cap­i­tal deals in 2017, com­pared with 41 deals in 2016. Both Alibaba Group Hold­ing Ltd and Ten­cent have in­vested in video con­tent or livestream­ing star­tups.

The sec­tor’s rapid growth since the sec­ond half of 2016 is at­trib­uted to fourth-gen­er­a­tion com­mu­ni­ca­tions and mo­bile in­ter­net tech­nolo­gies. The plethora of plat­forms that have sprung up are closely watched by in­vestors ea­ger to back po­ten­tial suc­cess sto­ries with hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars.

How­ever, this light­ning-quick surge has led to a reg­u­la­tory gap that prompted con­cerns about the risk of vul­gar online con­tent, in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty vi­o­la­tions and in­ad­e­quate su­per­vi­sion.

For ex­am­ple, Kuaishou and Hu­oshan have been crit­i­cized for fea­tur­ing video hosts who pub­li­cize and dis­trib­ute coun­ter­feit prod­ucts on their videos.

The Cy­berspace Administration of China or­dered Kuaishou and Hu­oshan on April 4 to re­move harm­ful and vul­gar con­tent so as to cre­ate a clean online en­vi­ron­ment. The two apps were later re­moved from An­droid app stores and up­dates are no longer avail­able for ver­sions that run on Ap­ple’s iPhones, me­dia re­ported.

The two plat­forms have made pub­lic apolo­gies, promis­ing to over­haul their ser­vices and in­crease man­power for con­tent re­view. This will in­clude re­mov­ing vul­gar, porno­graphic or vi­o­lent con­tent, black­list­ing pub­lish­ers of in­ap­pro­pri­ate con­tent, and pro­hibit­ing users un­der the age of 18 from reg­is­ter­ing as livestream­ing hosts.

Su of Kuaishou says it is nec­es­sary for video-shar­ing plat­forms to strengthen up­loaded video con­tent mon­i­tor­ing, in ac­cor­dance with the law and reg­u­la­tions, be­fore rec­om­mend­ing them to users. Douyin has also promised to in­crease man­power for con­tent re­view and to post more ap­pro­pri­ate con­tent.

“Short video plat­forms should for­mu­late rel­e­vant rules and strengthen the mon­i­tor­ing of livestream­ing and up­loaded videos in ac­cor­dance with State reg­u­la­tions,” says Ma Shicong, an an­a­lyst at Bei­jing-based in­ter­net con­sul­tancy Analysys.

Ma says young mo­bile users are gen­er­at­ing grow­ing de­mand for short videos, as their free time tends to be frag­mented and short.

It seems Kuaishou is fa­vored by peo­ple liv­ing in third- and fourth-tier cities, while Douyin is pop­u­lar among young peo­ple in first- and sec­ond-tier cities, ac­cord­ing to Ma.

“How­ever, most of the apps will not make prof­its in the short term, as the early in­vest­ment is huge. They gen­er­ate in­come through ad­ver­tise­ment rev­enue, mem­ber­ship fees and other value-added ser­vices,” she adds.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.