TikTok’s Instagram rival, Whee, has no traction

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Whee! Is TikTok’s New Social App a Plan B or Just a Wheel Spin?

TikTok, the wildly popular short-form video platform, has ventured beyond its core competency and launched Whee, a new photo-sharing app seemingly designed to compete with Instagram. This move, however, is shrouded in mystery, with the company offering little clarity about its plans for the app.

A Quiet Launch and a Lack of Promotion

Whee, quietly launched in June 2024, has been made available in 71 countries, but it hasn’t received the same fanfare as many of TikTok’s previous ventures. Its absence from Apple’s Search Ads, a crucial tool for app discovery, only further fuels the speculation surrounding its intent.

"Without marketing support, new apps remain largely invisible on today’s App Store," says Appfigures, an app intelligence firm.

This lack of promotion has resulted in a rather modest reception. Whee garnered just 13,000 global iOS downloads and an estimated 10,000 Android downloads, figures that stand in stark contrast to the millions of downloads enjoyed by TikTok itself. Notably, the app has seen limited usage in the U.S., instead seeing its highest adoption in markets like Malaysia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Peru, and Indonesia. However, even these markets only account for a small number of downloads, suggesting organic, rather than strategic growth.

A Calculated Move or a Missed Opportunity?

The timing of Whee’s launch has sparked speculation, occurring shortly after President Biden signed the TikTok ban into law, a move that forced either a sale or a complete shutdown of the platform in the U.S. While TikTok has subsequently challenged the ban in court, its long-term future in the country remains uncertain.

Some analysts believe that Whee could be a Plan B for ByteDance, the company behind TikTok, guaranteeing a social media presence in the U.S. even if the ban on TikTok stands. This strategy is not entirely unprecedented, as ByteDance has previously tested other social apps outside of TikTok, like Lemon8, an Instagram-like app specifically targeting a younger audience.

Lemon8: A Slow-Burn Strategy?

Lemon8’s initial release in 2023 was met with mixed success, garnering 2.5 million iOS downloads by November 2023. While this number is impressive for a new app, it pales in comparison to TikTok’s massive user base of over a billion monthly active users. However, Lemon8’s growth has been more gradual, and today it stands as the No. 2 Lifestyle app in the U.S., boasting nearly 7.7 million iOS installs. This suggests that ByteDance is adopting a long-term approach with Lemon8, potentially viewing it as a future contender in the social media landscape.

A History of Experimentation and Missed Opportunities

ByteDance has experimented with other social apps, including CapCut, a popular video editing app, and TikTok Now, a BeReal-inspired app. However, the latter was ultimately discontinued after less than a year, demonstrating ByteDance’s willingness to test and pivot in the social media space. Currently, the company is testing TikTok Notes, another Instagram competitor, suggesting a continuous desire to explore additional avenues for engagement.

Whee: A Gamble Worth Taking?

Whether Whee will follow the same path as Lemon8 – a slow-burn success story – remains to be seen. The lack of promotion and the tepid reception so far raise questions about ByteDance’s commitment and strategy for this new venture.

If Whee’s launch was indeed a backup plan in the face of the TikTok ban, it is a carefully calculated move by ByteDance, aiming to ensure a continued presence in the U.S. market. However, if the company decides to invest resources and marketing efforts in Whee, the app could potentially become a meaningful player in the crowded photo-sharing space.

Only time will tell if Whee will become a popular destination for photo enthusiasts or merely a fleeting experiment for ByteDance. As the app enters its infancy, the question on everyone’s mind is: Will Whee gain traction and provide ByteDance with a valuable social media asset, or will it simply become another forgotten app forgotten in the long list of social media ventures?

Article Reference

Emily Johnson
Emily Johnson
Emily Johnson is a tech enthusiast with over a decade of experience in the industry. She has a knack for identifying the next big thing in startups and has reviewed countless internet products. Emily's deep insights and thorough analysis make her a trusted voice in the tech news arena.