Live from TechCrunch – China’s biggest selfie app wants to prevent skin diseases

Meitu, the Chinese beautifying filter app that turned to an overnight hit in the West earlier this year, is giving selfie addicts a more valid reason to continue their obsessions.

Enabled by AI technology, Meitu’s selfie apps are expected to give advices not only on quality of makeup application, but also skin condition and potential diseases, said Zhang Wei, CTO of the Xiamen-based company, at TechCrunch Shenzhen today.

“There’s already dermatological diagnosis hardware on the market, but we believe a good hardware should adopt to user behaviors rather than change them. Most existing dermatological devices takes the form of a hardware accessory,” he said. “They might be good products, but it is difficult to keep users. On the other hand, selfie diagnosis allows users to have two tasks done at the same time.”

While Meitu is only a filter tool, Zhang disclosed that the company has plans to integrate social featuintos in their services, but he didn’t specify which form their product is going to take.

Although a majority of Meitu’s users are still in the mainland, the company is gradually spearheading its foray to the global market. In addition to the Western market, the firm has already established their presence in Japanese, South Korean and Southeast Asia markets.

“Expansion into Asia countries is relatively easier thanks to the similarity in our cultures. In general, Asia users have an obsession with white skin, but there are tiny differences in their preferences, which need us to fine-tune the products. For example, Japanese girls like Geisha white, while Chinese girls prefer the rosy white,” said Zhang.

In addition to Meitu, lots of startups are tapping on the photo editing market. Zhang believes going to vertical sectors might be their possibilities.

“Although internet giants like Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent have put out feelers in virtually every tech vertical, they can’t be fully dedicated to each and every of them. Pony Ma would have most of its time for WeChat and QQ, while the rest of the business would only claim 10 to 20% of his or the team’s attention,” he said. “Likewise, newcomers still have opportunities in smaller sectors with advantages of their full dedication. Meitu might be a top player in China’s photo-editing market, but startup groups would find their opportunity in smaller verticals like retina.”

Meitu is the operator of a range of photo-editing apps like MeituPic, MakeUp and stream app Meipai, and Meitu smartphone. Claiming over 456 million users per month, the firm got listed at the end of last year for the largest tech IPO for nearly a decade in Hong Kong stock market.