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A Factor in Its Lag Behind OpenAI and Its Approach to Catching Up – China Money Network

The US software giant Adobe recently announced its plan to incorporate multiple text-to-video AI tools, including OpenAI’s Sora and viral startup Pika, into the new version of its popular video editing software, Premiere Pro. This move signifies a step towards commercializing these text-to-video services, potentially solidifying their lead over competitors like CapCut, the popular video editing tool owned by ByteDance.

Despite being in the field of utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) in video editing and generation for as long as OpenAI, CapCut has not yet produced impressive results comparable to Sora and Pika. As ByteDance heavily invests in AI, the gap between its AI tools and those of its American peers appears to be widening.

This widening gap may stem from the practical and commercially driven approach of Chinese tech companies towards innovation. Chinese companies have traditionally viewed innovation with a pragmatic lens, prioritizing how innovations like AI can enhance business operations and often pursuing commercialization prematurely.

ByteDance’s AI strategy and its current competitive position in AI serve as a notable example of how Chinese AI functions and hints at its future trajectory.

ByteDance’s Viral Video Editing Tools: Jianyin and CapCut

Similar to other ByteDance products, there are two versions of its video editing tools: Jianyin for the Chinese market and CapCut for international markets.

Jianyin was launched in 2019 and it significantly lowered the threshold for creating user-generated videos, allowing anyone to prepare materials and generate decent-quality videos with just a few clicks, and then publish them directly to Douyin, TikTok’s Chinese version.

With its rich features and deep integration with Douyin, Jianyin gained over 1 billion monthly active users in just three years, rising to the top spot among similar software.

CapCut, the overseas version of the app, was launched in 2020 and has close ties to TikTok. CapCut currently has over 200 million monthly active users, according to mobile app analytics platform DataEye.

Additionally, according to data from market research firm, as of August 2023, CapCut has over 490 million users on both iPhone and Android platforms, equivalent to one-fourth of TikTok’s global user base.

One significant competitive advantage of Jianyi and CapCut is their direct access to a vast amount of video data, in addition to their massive user base, which can be utilized for AI model training. In contrast, other AI companies such as OpenAI and Pika often need to purchase videos (or risk facing potential legal issues).

CapCut’s Premature Emphasis on Commercialization and Business Enhancement

One potential reason for CapCut’s lag behind competitors is that it may have focused on commercialization and business enhancement prematurely.

Jianyin and CapCut’s initial positioning was to lower the barrier to short video creation, promoting the prosperity of the Douyin and later TikTok user generated content ecosystem. By providing entertaining special effects and facilitating trend-driven content creation, both apps played a pivotal role in fueling the growing popularity of Douyin and TikTok.

During this process, their emphasis was always on achieving tangible commercial results such as revenue generation and performance improvement.

Jianyin, for example, launched its VIP membership early on, allowing users to pay a monthly fee of around twenty to thirty yuan to access exclusive materials, curated templates, and AI features. Jianyin has also added numerous advertising spaces within the app to generate additional revenue.

This approach is ingrained in the overall culture of ByteDance, and to some extent, the entire Chinese tech industry. ByteDance has always been a fast-paced, highly competitive internet company. If individuals, teams, or businesses cannot bring visible outputs quickly, they may be phased out.

The same attitude extends to AI research, which demands long-term investment and faces significant uncertainty regarding outcomes. ByteDance’s AI Lab is mandated to closely collaborate with and support the company’s overarching business objectives.

ByteDance’s Practical Approach in Catching Up with Competitors

ByteDance has consistently demonstrated a proactive approach to integrating AI into its products, positioning itself as the leading Chinese companies with the highest investments in AI.

Back in 2016, ByteDance established an AI Lab and recruited many academic and industry top talent. That was also the early stages for OpenAI, which was on a mission to advance towards the vision of general artificial intelligence.

Eight years later, the divergence in AI achievements between the two companies is stark. OpenAI’s ChatGPT has captivated the world, and its array of AI tools, including DALLE for text-to-image and Sora for text-to-video, maintain a significant lead over competitors. In contrast, ByteDance is racing to catch up, yielding mixed results in its efforts.

After the unveiling of ChatGPT at the end of 2022, ByteDance raced to introduce a series of AI tools, such as DouBao, Cici, XiaoWuKong, ChitChop, Coze, KouZi, and BagelBell (read more about these products here).

In an internal memo in April 2023, ByteDance’s founder Zhang Yiming stated, “ByteDance cannot afford to miss out on AGI (Artificial General Intelligence)”. Encouraged by the founder, ByteDance heavily invested in generative AI, employing the same pragmatic and commercially-driven approach that may have played a role in their current position of trailing behind.

Most of ByteDance’s AI products, like the chatbot DouBao, are consumer-facing applications tailored to specific use cases, aimed at attracting users and fulfilling the company’s overall business objectives.

ByteDance’s Wide Net: Capturing Future Dominant AI Platforms

One belief is that generative AI will pave the way for a new generation of consumer platforms akin to Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. ByteDance must position itself in this landscape by casting a wide net and exploring various avenues to potentially establish future dominant platforms.

Currently, AGI remains beyond ByteDance’s vision.

This approach is understandable, given that developing AGI requires significant investment and entails a highly uncertain future. While AGI is important, its impact on current business operations is not yet clear and requires more time to mature. ByteDance’s AI investment strategy must consider short- and medium-term returns.

However, in today’s rapidly evolving AI landscape, failing to stay at the forefront of innovation carries significant risks of being left behind. ByteDance’s AI efforts therefore have a dual objective: catching up with the most pioneering AGI trends while also being able to quickly implement solutions to serve business needs.

This path is fraught with challenges, but ByteDance possesses a crucial asset: its vast repository of text, images, and videos, which are invaluable resources in the AI industry.

In either case, ByteDance remains an important player to watch in the future of AI.

Originally Appeared Here

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