We once introduced how the photography-focused Meitu Kiss phone came into being and it is backed by Cai Wensheng, a legendary figure in China’s tech industry. Today it is officially released, together with MeituAir, the built-in cross-platform photo management software.

With customized Android 4.2, quad-core MT6589 processor, 4.5-inch 1280 x 720 display and 8 mega-pixel front & rear camera, it’s priced at 2199 yuan (US$357) — the latest version of Xiaomi phone is for 1999 yuan (16GB) /2299yuan (32GB).

Meitu, the company behind the phone, started with PC-based photo editing software in 2008 and succeeded with a photo effects app, Mei Tu Xiu Xiu. It claims the mobile app has 290 million users, out of which 24.6 million are daily active. Cai Wensheng showed his confidence in the phone by saying “there are more than 300 million users if combing Mei Tu Xiu Xiu users and users of the PC software. It’s terrific even if one percent of them want to buy the phone” when asked about the phone recently.

With a plenty of photo-centered apps and PC-based tools, Meitu made revenues from advertising prior to the phone launch. Wu Xinhong, founder and CEO of Meitu, said earlier this year that the company was run “a little over break-even.”

Last year Mr. Cai said he, as an angel investor, hadn’t invested in non-mobile startups for quite a while. Today he said mobile phone would be the carrier of mobile Internet services, and the best structure for mobile Internet businesses is software + hardware + cloud.

The strategy sounds the same with Xiaomi’s — to gain users with comparatively good-value-for-money smartphones, build ecosystem with software and make profits from consumer-facing paid services and business-facing offerings. As Xiaomi is backed by Lei Jun, another classic figure in China’ s tech sector, it is speculated the two companies would be direct competitors in near future. Although Meitu Kiss claims it’s focused on photography, it’s safe to say its users would like to use apps Xiaomi users also like.

Also like Lei Jun, Mr. Cai has invested in a variety of tech companies, from gaming to Weibo content marketing agencies, that would help provide Meitu Kiss with content and services. They don’t, of course, have to be competitors if they can grab market share from existing big players like Samsung separately.

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at

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