Meitu (“beautiful pictures”), now a Chinese household name for photo makeover, has added to its photo-editing repertoire another tool, Poster Labs. With a few taps, the app lets users create a mosaic of 1-5 photos to simulate a magazine cover or design. The slogan says it all: Gao-da-shang (a tongue-in-cheek slang describing something that looks expensive, sophisticated and fancy).
Today it would be difficult for a new startup to have dibs in the big pie of photo-editing products. But it’s unsurprising for Meitu to launch yet another photo-oriented app, given its incredible popularity – 740 million total installs and 136 million monthly active users, according to Meitu) and the mere fact that people like making themselves and their photos look good.
Many Southeast Asian girls are obsessed with smooth white skin, big eyes and skinny face. Meitu’s selfie apps give them all that with just a few taps. For those more interested in non-portraits, Meitu’s rich selection of filters and mosaic modules instantly give a xiaozi/petite bourgeois touch to the photo featuring their cup of coffee on a wooden table. Now Poster Labs makes you feel even better by featuring you in a magazine and saving you the time to master Photoshop.
Meitu started out as a desktop-oriented experience in 2008 with its signature photo-editing and -sharing app Meitu Xiuxiu (“xiu” means “show”), debuted on smartphone with more makeover products in 2011, and introduced selfie smartphone Meitu Kiss with preinstalled selfie makeover apps in 2013.
Meitu Xiuxiu has become one of China’s most used photo editing tool. Of its 740 million users, 422 million are mobile-based. Daily active users reach 23.5 million. Meitu is also known to be popular in other Asian countries, as some Chinese developers want to serve female users outside China to avoid domestic competition.
In 2013, Oxford named ‘selfie’ as the word of the year. It is easy to dismiss those who post non-stop selfies and polished photos as narcissistic bonkers. Still, others suggest that the phenomenon may just be a basic human desire to get “appreciated and recognized,” aka begging for ‘likes.’ By the end of the day, developers care nothing but simply that people like good-looking stuff.
Update on July 28, 2014: Within 3 days, Poster Labs has made it to the top of free apps on Apple Store China.