The Chinese Finally Made a Selfie App for Every Age, Gender and Ethnicity
Meitu, the billion dollar selfie app isn’t about to relinquish its throne in China. That’s why newbies like Sweet Selfie are looking outward with an app made for other types of faces – and winning.
Photo Credit : Facebook/Sweet Selfie App for India,
Working out of Hangzhou city, the emerging tech hub and home of Alibaba, comes one of India’s most popular selfie apps, Sweet Selfie. The app calls India their biggest market and was launched by UFoto (parent company Hangzhou Gexiang Technology) in November 2015. The company has so far raised a modest 10 million dollars from VC and PE investor firm, Orchid Asia Group (the same guys who invested in leading Chinese OTA, Ctrip, who in turn has invested 180 million dollars in MakeMyTrip).
Chen Ji, the founder CEO of UFoto says, “Most of our core members come from Alibaba Group, Cheetah Mobile, ThunderSoft and other famous Chinese Internet companies.” Chen Ji himself was director of graphics at ThunderSoft, the company which provides technology services for phones including cameras for Qualcomm, Spreadtrum, Lenovo and Samsung.
By the team’s own admission, they are working very hard to become the largest selfie content generation center in the world. UFoto’s self-portrait apps including Sweet Selfie target users outside China. The selfie business is nearly monopolized by Meitu launched in 2008, now valued close to 4 billion dollars and even whiffing at an IPO. As Meitu’s founder, Cai Wensheng tells Forbes, in selfie crazy China and across the West (who loves using Meitu to make Trump look like a fairy godmother), Meitu is, ‘basically number one in the industry’.
Stats from Meitu show that its list of apps have 360 million monthly active users producing 3.9 billion edited images a month. By download numbers, MeituPic beats all major competitors like Baidu’s HD Wallpapers and Tencent’s Pitu.
Compare that to UFoto’s stats of 70 million users worldwide, and just over 300 million selfies produced.
So it’s only natural for new comers like UFoto to look outward. “Sweet Selfie is a globally oriented selfie and beauty application, it strives to provide global users with the most localized selfie and beauty experience,” said Chen Ji.
Looks like it’s working for the Sweet Selfie guys; the app has been ranked top 10 in Google Play’s photography category in more than 50 countries. In November 2016, Sweet Selfie was awarded by Google Play as Best of 2016 in Latin America, North Asia and other regions.
“Comparing with some competitors like Meitu and Camera 360, we can stand out in a short time mainly because we focus and concentrate on the key point – the selfie. Our app can take the fastest selfie with any of the features, compared to a standard smartphone camera.”
The other reason Chen Ji feels Sweet Selfie will be a global hit is because of their patented beautifying technology. “The Sweet Selfie app has a strong sense of localization. Comparing with our competitors, we are not using the same set of beauty algorithms in the world. On the contrary, we provide users from different areas in the world with the most localized beauty effects.”
What’s most fascinating is that the app developers use AI to optimize selfie effects according to a user’s gender, age, skin quality and ethnic features. For example, the skin tone, shape of eyes and jaw bone structures will differ by region and as much as we love K-Pop it would be nice to have a selfie app that understands what works with faces outside China.
The strategy to make a selfie app that will work for any ethnicity is working for Sweet Selfie. India is their largest market and the fastest growing.
“There are more than 10 million Sweet Selfie users in India. It is the fastest growing country for us and has the largest amount of active users. Undoubtedly, India has become the most important country to us, therefore, we specially provide more functions such as makeup and selfie videos for the Indian market. What’s more, in order to create a complete Selfie community here, we will cooperate more and more with our local team who are specialists in feature development for India,” said Ji.
And what have they discovered about Indian selfie-takers? “We have found that the degree of dermabrasion used by most Indian users is less than what Brazilian users do, and the effects are closer to nature. Therefore, we have made some targeted improvements of the default beauty effects in the app targeting India. We also find Indian users are becoming more and more mature and are more likely to use a localized app.”
You make a great selfie app to monetize of course; while UFoto will be looking to increase ecommerce offerings and brand partnerships, right now their in-app purchases in India range from 65 to 95 rupees according to Google Play Store. That should be making them some ka-ching with the promise of more to come. “In our opinion, the app market in India is the fastest growing market in the world and has unimaginable potential.”
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