A couple weeks ago, Cooliris, a gallery and photo-viewing app, launched on Android, making it available to a wide, global consumer base it didn’t have access to before.

The mobile app originally launched on iOS in July 2012 after gaining popularity as a web browser plugin. The app’s unique ability to quickly load photos from many different cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive, Facebook, and many others made it appealing to those with scattered media collections. The company now boasts more than 50 million app downloads and 100,000 daily activations on Android alone.

The primary advantage of being on Android, of course, is access to global markets. While iOS is popular outside the U.S., even seeing significant growth in China, Android’s marketshare is far larger. However, developing for Android comes with its own challenges.

“When we developed the Android app, it was really, really, really painful,” said Tien-Yu Lee, head of business development in China. “We have so many things to test.”

Lee referred to the various screen sizes and hardware components in the many different types of Android phones, each of which can introduce unique kinks and bugs that need to be worked out.

Another challenge was making sure the app would launch successfully in local markets. Lee said it was a bad idea to simply integrate local services without reaching out to them, especially in China where partnerships can be critical to success.

“You have to reach out the companies here,” Lee said. “Through this kind of business development experience, we can get many, many resources, more than just the API (application programming interface).”


Cooliris now includes local Chinese services like Renren, Baidu and Sina Weibo, which Lee said featured Cooliris on their platform, something that would not have happened if the Cooliris didn’t reach out to the local company.

Since China’s Android app market is much more fractured than outside the country, where most people download Android apps from Google Play, Cooliris chose to partner with Wandoujia. Lee said Wandoujia was the most responsive app distribution company and that other companies had more requirements such as submitting the app weeks in advance or paying for top spots in the app store.

“The other three (app stores we approached) have to go through contacts,” Lee said. “Everything is very unproductive and inefficient; but working with Wandoujia, we don’t have these problems.”

The partnership appears to be paying off. The company is not releasing exact figures but said that downloads in China are already six times higher than any other country. This may not be surprising since China has been the world’s largest smartphone market since 2012, but Lee credited the partnership with Wandoujia for the launch’s success.

Cooliris is looking at working with other app stores in the future, but the partnership with Wandoujia promised the company an exclusive launch for the product, Lee said.

The next move for Cooliris will be moving into mobile messaging. This is a feature that already exists in the iOS app, causing some people to confuse it as a competitor to apps such as WeChat and WhatsApp. Lee said it has been difficult to dispel these notions but the company is now working on “a standalone visual messaging app” for both Android and iOS.

The emphasis on media visualization is a critical component of how Cooliris differentiates itself. Sharing many photos at once in WeChat “doesn’t look beautiful,” Lee said. This makes it less than ideal for people who want to privately share photos of a vacation or a wedding.

“In this context you will definitely come to our app,” Lee said.

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