ByteDance Publishes Its Online Reading App Names Tomato Fiction
COVID-19 and China
The ByteDance building. Photo:Credit to ByteDance

On Mar 26, 2019, ByteDance published a reading APP names Tomato Fiction. This app was highly recommended after its publication, and rapidly ranked top 3 of the reading list of App Store, ahead of the Weichat Reading. The huge users and mature operation model of ByteDance might be factors which help Tomamto Fiction to gain success in such a short time. 

The Tomato Reading describes itself as “a fiction reader which is genuine and free”. The function of this app is very similar to Midu (米读), which was published by Qutoutiao (趣头条) in last year. The profiting model of  Tomato Fiction is “free reading + advertisement", which is very close to that of Midu.

According to the historical information of App Store, the Tomato Fiction was published 2 months ago, developed by Beijing Endless Reading Culture Company. According to Qimai Data (七麦数据), the developer of Tomato Fiction used to publish a production in last December names Tomato Reading. However, the Bundle ID of Tomato Reading belongs to ByteDance. Afterwards, the Tomato Reading was abandoned and the Bundle ID of Tomato Fiction changed into com.tomato.reading. In addition, in January 2019, ByteDance used to hire the fiction editors and fiction operating managers on (拉勾网), a professional recruiting website. 

In 2018, Midu gained a great success and attracted lots of users. The DAU of Midu reached 5 million within half of a year after its publication. According to TAN Siliang (谭思亮), the founder of Qutoutiao, Midu offers its users a way of reading without spending a lot of money. At the same times, Midu offers a new profiting model of advertisements. The number of download of Midu exceeded 40 million, and it almost cost no money for Qutoutiao to operate Midu. That’s reasonable for ByteDance to publish an app like Midu, which has a doable profit model and easy to copy. With its strong user-grabbing ability and advertisement advantages, ByteDance could easily gain the market share of Midu with Tomato Fiction.

On the other hand, Bytedance faces great pressures of commercialization in 2019. Broadcasting, game, online education, all these methods are experimented by ByteDance to find a suitable way to make money. The book reader, however, could accumulate users in a short time while transform its users into money.

Although the Tomato Fiction has published 2 months, its advertisement system is operating from the very beginning. For every new user, he would find lots of advertisements 2 days after the install of the app. Many users give a low score for so many advertisements. According to the average length of online fictions, a reader would have to read more than 1000 advertisements in order to finish a fiction. The consumer experience is of vital importance, and it would take a long time for ByteDance to better its Tomato Fiction. However, it is undeniable that the Tomato Fiction is very successful, maybe that's because it puts advertisement on Toutiao and Douyin, which are the largest content platforms of ByteDance.



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