It isn’t just the algorithms, but lessons from a cutthroat culture
The concern around TikTok in Washington is drawing fresh attention to how Chinese apps have woven themselves into the fabric of young Americans’ lives—and what makes them so popular.
Four of the five hottest apps in the U.S. in March were forged in China. Algorithms are often cited as their secret sauce. An often overlooked facet is how cutthroat competition for users at home has given Chinese firms a leg up over Western rivals.
Much like during China’s rise to manufacturing dominance a few decades ago, Chinese tech companies have harnessed a labor pool of affordable talent to constantly fine-tune product features.
The nonstop drive to get better even has a term in China’s tech industry: “embroidery.”
“Everybody works on improving their craft, stitch by stitch,” said Fan Lu, a venture-capital investor who invested in TikTok’s predecessor Musical.ly.
Seven-month-old Temu was the most downloaded app across U.S. app stores during the first three weeks of March, according to market-insights firm Sensor Tower. It was followed by TikTok’s video-editing partner app CapCut and TikTok itself. Fast-fashion retailer Shein came in fourth. Then came Facebook, the only non-Chinese app among the top five.
<p data-chorus-optimize-field="dek">President Zelenskyy visited the G7 and Arab League summits to make Ukraine’s case.</p> <br />