CapCut, TikTok’s sister app beats the competition for social video editing

TikTok continues to be the most talked-about app of the moment, with new countries banning its use on government devices. CEO Shou Zi Crew came under fire in a recent US Congressional hearing after the United States and several European countries, New Zealand and the United Kingdom were the latest two countries to ban TikTok on smartphones and tablets with access to the parliamentary network, concerned about Chinese laws that oblige domestic companies to provide information to the government if requested to do so.

Grappling with pressure from the US authorities to sell the company that runs the application in the country, ByteDance meanwhile has another application that is beating out the competition and is among the most used by users. It is called CapCut and is a video editing valuable tool for enhancing clips to be shared on social media, especially those on TikTok, as well as Instagram and YouTube, with a series of effects and animations.

A quick success thanks to a wide range of services

Conceived by Shenzhen Lianmeng Technology, a startup that ByteDance acquired in 2018 for $300 million, the app was launched in April 2020 on Android under the name Viamaker. In December of the same year, it was renamed CapCut and quickly found great success among creators. Free and easy to use via smartphone, it allows you to post-produce a video quickly, with edits including cutting, inserting images, adding audio, automatic subtitles and music tracks, removing the background and resizing the video.

CapCut’s popularity began in 2021 in the US thanks to the introduction of Zoom 3D, a tool with which to obtain three-dimensional images and clips, with many professional creators starting to exploit it to spread videos that were ideal for TikTok’s algorithm, which consequently rewarded this content in terms of visibility and virality. The decisive push came at the beginning of 2023, when according to several companies monitoring the mobile app market (including China’s Diandian and, CapCut reached 200 million monthly active users, earning it the top spot of the most downloaded apps per week on both the App Store and the Play Store.

More than 400 million monthly active users

In 2022, global app downloads soared by 43% to over 400 million monthly active users overall. Created as a reflection of TikTok, CapCut departs from it in terms of the personal user data it collects. The app’s privacy policy refers to gender, date of birth, location, photos and videos downloaded, which are equivalent to the elements requested and processed by other apps of the same type. According to ByteDance, the data are stored in the United States and Singapore. Following the usual pattern adopted by Chinese companies, CapCut aimed to attract users by offering a free service and continuously updating its offer by adding filters and effects tailored for festivities such as Halloween and Christmas. A wise choice, as it has led to a large daily growth in downloads.

Upcoming innovations: Generative AI and enterprise version

As is the case with Douyin and TikTok, CapCut takes its cue from its Chinese version Jianying, where ByteDance experiments with new features and then brings them to the world. The most current example is artificial intelligence-generated content, with several teams working on integrating the functionality on CapCut, after the possibility of creating videos based on user-supplied text descriptions arrived on Jianying in 2021.

As for monetisation, last January, the app had global sales of $800,000, with more than 50% of revenues coming from the US. Money was obtained mainly by subscribing to premium features, free until August 2022, for cloud storage and exclusive filters and effects. In the former case, they range from $0.99 for 10 GB to $5.99 per month for 1TB; in the latter, $7.99 per month or $74.99 per year. Enterprise users are attracted by CapCut’s wide range of services, such as text-to-voice transformation and video transcription. A version of the app for businesses will be added soon.

Alessio Caprodossi is a technology, sports, and lifestyle journalist. He navigates between three areas of expertise, telling stories, experiences, and innovations to understand how the world is shifting. You can follow him on Twitter (@alecap23) and Instagram (Alessio Caprodossi) to report projects and initiatives on startups, sustainability, digital nomads, and web3.