Both news aggregation apps provide a more personalised news-reading experience, but ‘David’ is beating ‘Goliath’ in this case

ByteDance has a reason for the reported sale of its news aggregation app TopBuzz: it is losing out to a much smaller rival with Chinese roots – Particle Media’s News Break – which is being downloaded more than CNN and Reddit, according to current US app store rankings.

The Chinese owner of global hit TikTok might have earned its entertainment spurs in the US with the short video app’s burgeoning popularity there, but the more mature news business is proving to be a totally different story.

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News Break was the most downloaded Android news app in the US from January to September, and ranked second on Apple’s App Store, behind Twitter. In comparison, ByteDance’s TopBuzz, which uses machine learning similar to TikTok’s to recommend content, ranked below 20th. News Republic, the other news product ByteDance owns through a 2017 acquisition, came even lower on the list, around 100th, according to mobile intelligence firm Sensor Tower.

Beijing-based ByteDance is best known for its consumer-oriented algorithms that are designed to increase user stickiness through smart content recommendations. Particle Media said it takes a slightly different approach, with an “interest engine” that integrates search records and recommendation technologies, although ByteDance’s apps also allow users to actively search and follow the accounts they like.

With TikTok under US fire, will ByteDance’s expansion plans be checked?

In short – both news aggregation apps provide a more personalised news-reading experience, but “David” is beating “Goliath” in this case. One challenge that both Chinese-backed news aggregators have to face though is the rising tech war between the US and China.

TikTok has recently been tackled in the US over censorship and security concerns by senior figures including Facebook chief executive

Mark Zuckerberg

and US


Chuck Schumer, Tom Cotton and

Marco Rubio

. ByteDance has denied it censors overseas content at the behest of the Chinese government.