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ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, now boasts the most popular AI chatbot in China.

ByYasmeeta Oon

May 21, 2024
ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, now boasts the most popular AI chatbot in China.

ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, now boasts the most popular AI chatbot in China.

In the fast-evolving landscape of artificial intelligence, ByteDance Ltd has surged ahead of Baidu Inc in the competition to create China’s leading AI-powered chatbot. ByteDance’s Doubao, launched in August, has outpaced Baidu’s Ernie Bot in terms of popularity and user engagement. According to data from Sensor Tower, Doubao surpassed Ernie in downloads last year and now boasts more regular monthly users on iOS in China.

Doubao’s rise in the AI chatbot market has been remarkable. Sensor Tower data reveals that Doubao was the most downloaded AI chatbot on Apple Inc’s iOS platform, with nearly nine million downloads in the year leading up to April. In contrast, Baidu’s Ernie Bot achieved eight million downloads during the same period. Moreover, Doubao leads in monthly active users, with over four million users engaging with the chatbot regularly.

AI ChatbotDownloads (Millions)Monthly Active Users (Millions)
Doubao94
Ernie8N/A

Beijing-based ByteDance has made significant strides in artificial intelligence under the leadership of co-founder and CEO Liang Rubo. The company, known globally for its short-video platforms TikTok and Douyin, has prioritized catching up in AI technology. Liang Rubo has emphasized a sense of urgency within the company to innovate and stay ahead in the competitive market.

ByteDance’s strategic efforts have paid off, with Doubao becoming the most popular AI chatbot in China. The company’s focus on AI is evident in its continued development and promotion of Doubao, which now has 26 million monthly active users across mobile and PC platforms. This figure dwarfs OpenAI’s ChatGPT mobile app, which has 6.7 million monthly users in the US, according to Similarweb.

The AI race in China is heating up, with major tech players like Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, Tencent Holdings Ltd, and ByteDance investing heavily in generative AI. These companies are developing their own foundational models and investing substantial amounts in emerging AI startups such as Baichuan and Zhipu AI.

Despite the intense competition, the AI sector in China remains challenging. Analysts from Bloomberg Intelligence, including Robert Lea, note that the low barrier to entry has led to the proliferation of numerous AI services. Young startups, like Beijing-based Moonshot AI with its Kimi bot, are also making their presence felt. However, the widespread competition and US trade restrictions on advanced AI accelerator chips pose significant challenges to monetization efforts.

Among China’s top five AI chatbots, Ernie is the only one offering a paid subscription tier. However, Sensor Tower data indicates that Ernie has generated less than US$500,000 from in-app purchases and subscriptions since its launch in March 2023. Baidu expects the primary growth driver for Ernie to come from advertising and cloud services, which it projects will contribute several billion yuan in additional revenue this year.

  • Doubao: 26 million monthly active users
  • ChatGPT (US): 6.7 million monthly users
  • Ernie: Less than US$500,000 from in-app purchases and subscriptions

The competition in China’s AI chatbot market is likely to intensify as more companies enter the fray and existing players continue to innovate. ByteDance’s success with Doubao demonstrates the potential for AI chatbots to attract large user bases and generate significant engagement. However, the broader market dynamics, including regulatory challenges and technological barriers, will influence the future trajectory of AI development in China.

As ByteDance and Baidu vie for dominance, other tech giants like Alibaba and Tencent are also expected to play crucial roles in shaping the AI landscape. Their investments in AI startups and in-house development will contribute to the rapid advancement of AI technology in the region.

In conclusion, ByteDance’s Doubao has emerged as a frontrunner in China’s AI chatbot market, surpassing Baidu’s Ernie Bot in popularity and user engagement. The company’s strategic focus on AI and its ability to attract a large user base underscore its competitive edge. As the AI race continues, the industry will witness further innovations and challenges, shaping the future of AI technology in China and beyond.

  • ByteDance’s Doubao surpasses Baidu’s Ernie in AI chatbot downloads and monthly active users.
  • Doubao leads with almost nine million downloads on iOS and over four million monthly active users.
  • ByteDance prioritizes AI innovation under CEO Liang Rubo’s leadership.
  • China’s AI sector sees intense competition from major tech players and startups.
  • Monetization remains a challenge, with Ernie generating less than US$500,000 from subscriptions.
  • Future prospects depend on technological advancements and regulatory dynamics.

By keeping an eye on these developments, stakeholders can better understand the evolving AI landscape in China and its implications for global technology trends.


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Featured Image courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter

Yasmeeta Oon

Just a girl trying to break into the world of journalism, constantly on the hunt for the next big story to share.

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