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The co-evolution of two Chinese mobile short video apps: Parallel platformization of Douyin and TikTok


Kaye, David Bondy Valdovinos; Chen, Xu; Zeng, Jing (2020). The co-evolution of two Chinese mobile short video apps: Parallel platformization of Douyin and TikTok. Mobile Media & Communication:Epub ahead of print.

Abstract

TikTok is the international twin of China’s mobile short video app, Douyin, and one of the fastest growing short video platforms in the world. Owned by Chinese tech giant, ByteDance, TikTok and Douyin share many similarities in terms of appearance, functionality, and platform affordances; however, they exist in radically different markets and are governed by radically different forces. Unlike other popular mobile media platforms in China and internationally, TikTok and Douyin are neither part of the big three tech giants in China nor the big five in the US. This provides an interesting case study to investigate how an emerging internet company adapts its products to better fit divergent expectations, cultures, and policy frameworks in China and abroad. Using the app walkthrough method informed by platformization of culture production theory, this study highlights the similarities and distinctions between these two platforms. We argue the co-evolution of Douyin and TikTok is a new paradigm of global platform expansion that differs from strategies of regionalization adopted by previous major social media platforms. We contribute to platformization theory by developing the concept of parallel platformization to explain ByteDance’s strategies for surviving in two opposing platform ecosystems in China and abroad.

Abstract

TikTok is the international twin of China’s mobile short video app, Douyin, and one of the fastest growing short video platforms in the world. Owned by Chinese tech giant, ByteDance, TikTok and Douyin share many similarities in terms of appearance, functionality, and platform affordances; however, they exist in radically different markets and are governed by radically different forces. Unlike other popular mobile media platforms in China and internationally, TikTok and Douyin are neither part of the big three tech giants in China nor the big five in the US. This provides an interesting case study to investigate how an emerging internet company adapts its products to better fit divergent expectations, cultures, and policy frameworks in China and abroad. Using the app walkthrough method informed by platformization of culture production theory, this study highlights the similarities and distinctions between these two platforms. We argue the co-evolution of Douyin and TikTok is a new paradigm of global platform expansion that differs from strategies of regionalization adopted by previous major social media platforms. We contribute to platformization theory by developing the concept of parallel platformization to explain ByteDance’s strategies for surviving in two opposing platform ecosystems in China and abroad.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Communication and Media Research
Dewey Decimal Classification:700 Arts
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Communication
Physical Sciences > Media Technology
Physical Sciences > Computer Networks and Communications
Uncontrolled Keywords:Douyin, TikTok, platformization, mobile apps, short video
Language:English
Date:30 August 2020
Deposited On:07 Oct 2020 15:46
Last Modified:08 Oct 2020 20:00
Publisher:Sage Publications
ISSN:2050-1579
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/2050157920952120

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