ByteDance’s New Social Media App Lemon8 Gains Popularity in the US Amid TikTok Controversy

ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, is promoting a new social media app in the US called Lemon8. While this could be seen as a business strategy to expand into different consumer markets, analysts have cautioned that creating another app to replace TikTok is not the best solution.

Lemon8 is a lifestyle app that focuses on health, wellness, and beauty. It was first launched in Japan in early 2020 and has become the second most downloaded lifestyle app in the US, bumping real estate marketplace Zillow to third place. The app has accumulated 17 million downloads globally since its launch.

US lawmakers are currently considering whether ByteDance needs to divest its stake in TikTok, which has come under immense scrutiny due to concerns about Chinese influence. The promotion of Lemon8 could be seen as a “competitive move” by ByteDance as it tries to expand into different consumer markets and segments with more image-based and longer-form written content as opposed to only short-form videos, according to analysts.

However, Lemon8’s links to ByteDance and TikTok will come under the radar of US regulators too, especially as the app continues to rise in popularity. If Lemon8 gets shut out of the US market, ByteDance still has millions of users worldwide who could potentially use the app. From a business strategy’s point of view, analysts don’t see many downsides to promoting competing products around the world.

Lemon8 could also serve as an alternative for content creators if TikTok ever gets banned in the US. “The fact that we’re getting a dedicated marketing push onto Lemon8 may be an effort to move creators onto a platform if TikTok is facing a ban,” said Lindsay Gorman, senior fellow for emerging tech at the German Marshall Fund. However, shifting 150 million TikTok users in the US from one app to another is no small feat.

Creating another app to replace TikTok will not be a quick solution for ByteDance. Chinese apps will continue to be scrutinized by the US as tensions with China are not dying down. Lemon8’s links to ByteDance and TikTok will come under scrutiny from US regulators, and it remains to be seen whether it can attract the same level of user engagement as TikTok.

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