There’s actually a lot of history regarding the development and release of the TikTok app, and it’s not entirely easy to answer that question in one sentence. You might also know TikTok by the names Douyin, Musical.ly, or even A.me, but it’s clear that the name “TikTok” is here to stay.
What is the history of TikTok?
TikTok as we all know it is now one of the most popular apps in the world when it comes to sharing short video content online, and it is being used by almost a billion users every single month. Before it became the social media giant we all know it is today, the concept or app was actually used in a number of different, unrelated platforms.
For example, do you still remember Vine? One could argue that the app where you could share 7-second clips with the rest of the world was one of TikTok’s spiritual predecessors, even if it has nothing to do with TikTok itself. Or how about Periscope, which touted its live functionality as a unique selling point. Going live is now one of the things that define TikTok as well.
Another name that might come to mind is Musical.ly.
Was TikTok previously Musical.ly?
Well, yes and no. It’s true that the Musical.ly service and userbase have migrated towards TikTok, but Musical.ly wasn’t the previous version of the application.
Musical.ly, also a Chinese company, was actually merged together with the Chinese version of TikTok, called Douyin. The makers of TikTok and Douyin bought the Musically company for about a billion American dollars in 2017. Musical.ly launched in 2014 and was popular with the younger population. Thanks to the acquisition of Musically, over a million users were migrated and added to the TikTok community.
In other words, Musically was not exactly the predecessor of TikTok, but more of a competitor that got bought out and acquired.
Is there a Chinese version of TikTok?
There absolutely is, and it’s called Douyin. You can learn more about Douyin in our dedicated article about the China-only platform, and we also explain how to get on the Chinese TikTok in a couple of easy steps.
Douyin was released in China all the way back in 2016, long before TikTok was ever made public to the world.
You could say that ‘Douyin’ was actually TikTok before it was named TikTok, although the comparison isn’t exactly correct.
You see, Douyin actually still exists and is the Chinese version of TikTok. They have a different name, a different userbase, different content – but the app itself is mostly identical. The interface is also extremely similar, although there is one major difference between Douyin and TikTok. The former allows for Chinese vendors and businesses to sign up for a business account, which allows them to sell products directly on the app. At the time of writing, that isn’t possible on TikTok yet.
Both Douyin and Tiktok are wildly popular and still active. The developer and owner of these two applications is Bytedance, a Chinese company.
In its very early stages, Douyin was known as A.me.
You could consider A.me to be the forefather of TikTok, as this was the name that started it all. A.me used to focus on a limited and local audience, but the Bytedance owner wanted to grow and expand its reach, so a new name was chosen: Douyin. A year after Douyin was developed and launched, they decided to go with the name “TikTok” for their European, American, and worldwide audience and it clearly was a good choice since the app skyrocketed to the number #1 position in the App Stores shortly after release.