Focused on turning the app to a platform with value-added services in 2015
Currently getting beta testers for third-party API, evaluating entry into China
COUPLES communications app Between recently crossed the-10 million download mark, claiming 100% year-on-year growth thanks to overseas markets such as Japan, Taiwan and South-East Asia.
Between allows couples to share photos, text messages and voice messages with one another, in their own ‘private’ social media space. It was launched in 2011 and competitors include apps such as Avocado, Cupple and Duet.
According to figures released by creators South Korea-headquartered VCNC (Value Creators & Company), the app now has 50% of its users coming from global markets outside of South Korea, up from 40% at the end of 2013.
Japan hit one million local downloads earlier this year, while Taiwan saw a 700% increase in downloads over the last year of operations.
In South-East Asia, the company concerntrates its efforts on three main markets – Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore – and reported a doubling of its users in the region, jumping from 300,000 downloads in 2013 to more than 600,000 this year.
In Thailand, the app has 200,000 users (from 90,000 in 2013); Malaysia has more than 160,000 users (from 80,000 in 2013); and Singapore boasts 110,000 users (from 50,000 in 2013).
VCNC chief executive officer and cofounder of VCNC Jake Park said that each year, he challenges his team to achieve a ‘unicorn’ goal.
“In 2013, it was releasing Between 2.0, making the best app for couples even better. This year, it was hitting 10 million global downloads, up from just five million at the end of last year.
“This milestone is important for our company’s next steps to achieving sustainability as it will allow us to operate as a platform, and I’m proud to see the team hit this goal confidently,” he said in a statement on the download milestone.
Between currently has a global team size of 39, with 32 in Seoul, three in Japan, two in Taiwan, and two in South-East Asia (Singapore and Thailand), with new additions to staff count on a needs basis.
The ‘unicorn’ goal for 2015 will be to make Between into a platform, which will allow it to continue to monetise from the niche user base it serves.
“We are currently getting beta testers for our third-party API (application programming interface), which will allow Between to offer more services to our users,” Park told Digital News Asia (DNA) via email.
Building the space Between
In terms of usage, VCNC said that Between has also seen user engagement continue to grow.
To date, the app has delivered over 24.9 billion messages, stored over 255 million photos, and recorded over 12.6 billion app sessions. An average Between user spends 17 minutes daily on the app.
Its South-East Asian users clocked in 159 million app sessions in 2013 compared to 422 million sessions to date.
Park (pic) reported that the usage on average is evenly split as people mainly use Between to engage with each other or to engage with existing content within the app, such as photos, notes, and key dates.
“On average, Between’s couples spend weekdays using the chat feature more, and during weekends we record more photos being uploaded. Translating this to couples’ behaviour patterns, most of our couples are dating so they probably don’t see each other during the weekdays, hence chatting keeps them connected.
“During the weekends, they usually go out on dates and create memories by taking photos and sharing them within Between,” he added.
The app currently monetises through in-app purchases from its sticker store, advertising and engagement through e-commerce stores and its proprietary Event Box channel, a couples advertising channel.
These monetisation activities are only active in South Korea and Park declined to share revenue figures for in-app purchases, only noting that the Event Box is currently the app’s main revenue driver in that market.
Park said that the company doesn’t have a fixed timeline for expanding the e-commerce store offering to other Asian markets at the moment.
“What we are focusing on now is to fine-tune the e-commerce business in South Korea to make sure it is a replicable and scalable model for other markets as well.
“Then we will have to look at the market readiness of other countries before deciding where next to launch this,” he said.
In terms of expanding its footprint in the region, Park said that China is obviously a huge market opportunity that the company is looking at with interest, but there are many issues to be dealt with regarding infrastructure and regulations.
“We are conducting aggressive market research on China right now and hope to be able to work with Chinese couples soon too,” he said.
There are also no plans to raise additional funding, with the company’s last injection via a “strategic investment” by Tokyo Stock Exchange-listed mobile Internet services company DeNA Co Ltd in February.
‘Couples app’ Between rolls out operations in South-East Asia
With investment from Tokyo firm, VCNC to build Between ‘platform’
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