For once, the roles seem to have turned. The Chinese application TikTok, whose operation is often imitated by competing applications, such as Instagram recently, instead introduced, Thursday, September 15, a new feature directly inspired by another application: BeReal .
With TikTok Now, users can now capture images simultaneously with the front and back lenses of their smartphone. This new feature should allow sharing “Your truest moments are with the people who mean the most to you”explains a press release from the company. “You will receive a daily invitation to take a ten-second video or photo to quickly share what you are doing”, he explained. This new option is currently only available in the United States.
The double image (selfie and environment), daily reminders, the promise of authenticity: like Snapchat and Instagram before it, TikTok actually has the same characteristics and commercial arguments that make the recipe for BeReal, the social network launched by two Frenchmen. in 2020 and has had some success, especially in the United States.
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In BeReal, users are, in fact, invited to post a photo every day using the front and rear cameras of their device simultaneously. Upon receiving the notification, sent at different times each day, they have two minutes to take their photo and post it.
It is always possible to post a snapshot a posteriori but the latter is accompanied by a reference to the deadline. The user can choose to publish his photo so that only people he accepts as friends can react, or broadcast it in public mode. The photo then appears in the discovery feed, where the user’s content scrolls randomly.
According to its founders, Alexis Barreyat and Kévin Perreau, BeReal was created in 2020 as a direct response to the filters, formats and business influence that replaced social networks such as Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok. “We don’t want to steal time or attention. You connected, after three minutes it’s done”assured Alexis Barreyat in an interview given to Western France in 2021.
The Meta group, Instagram’s parent company, has a habit of “taking inspiration” from innovations observed elsewhere. Instagram has previously copied the stories on Snapchat (ephemeral format), then short and fun TikTok videos with it real, recently changed its algorithm to give users more video content with viral potential, and less content posted by accounts that are followed. It also designed an in-house prototype invitation to share a real moment, like BeReal, called Candid.
TikTok’s decision to imitate the French application seems more surprising, the Chinese platform sees itself less as a network based on interactions between users than it is. “an entertainment platform”in the words of Blake Chandlee, the company’s president of international affairs, in an interview given last June by the American channel CNBC.
What economic model?
BeReal was, at the beginning of September, the most downloaded mobile application in the United States (iOS and Google Play combined) and was in the top 3 in France and the United Kingdom. According to data provided by the specialized company data.ai, it has reached almost 35 million installations since its launch. The numbers do not necessarily reflect the real number of users, however, and should also be put in perspective of its competitors: according to the company Statista, Instagram and Snapchat have one billion and 420 million monthly user. .
Despite the growing popularity, BeReal closed its communication and its managers did not give media interviews for a long time. In response to a request from Agence France-Presse (AFP), BeReal sent a short information sheet detailing the operation of the application. A search on the professional social network LinkedIn reveals that the startup currently has at least 121 people.
In the summer of 2021, the company raised $30 million from several investors, including the American venture capital fund Andreessen Horowitz and Kima Ventures, the seed capital holding company of Xavier Niel, founder of Free and also an individual shareholder on world. After its last fundraising in May, BeReal is currently valued at $600 million.
However, there is no specific filter for the period of the economic model envisaged in the long term for BeReal, which remains completely free. In the general state of the application, it is written for the attention of Internet users “that BeReal will never sell your data to third parties, nor process it in a way without your knowledge”. A point that is particularly important because competing social networks, such as Facebook, provide an obvious compensation by, in fact, marketing the personal data of their users.