Cupid’s arrow strikes SNS as Between hooks lovers

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Cupid’s arrow strikes SNS as Between hooks lovers

Facebook and Twitter may broaden your social circle, but a new Korean smartphone app is taking a different approach to social networking by prioritizing couples’ privacy.

Between, an SNS that principally targets unmarried couples, allows two people to share exclusive content. The app by VCNC also alerts them of upcoming anniversaries, such as 100 days since their first date, and lets them organize photo albums exclusively for the eyes of their partner.

It has attracted 800,000 members since its launch in November, with just over one-quarter based overseas.

“As SNS have become so widespread, they have created some problems, for example people not wanting to share some details of their private lives with their boss or colleagues,” said Park Jae-wook, head of VCNC. “As closed-door SNS have begun popping up around the world, we thought this type of service would be a good compromise.”

Park initially launched the service in Korean, English, Japanese and Chinese, then added five more languages last month, including Spanish, Portuguese and French.

He said four more will be added soon so the service can cater to 70 percent of the world population.

The service offered is standard - one size fits all - as Facebook and Instagram have already shown that site operators do not need to localize their content in order to be successful, Park said.

“On the Web and in the world of mobile gadgets, there are no borders between countries,” he added.

VCNC conducted surveys on couples before it embarked on developing the app to find out their needs and found privacy to be a common theme. Many said they were happy to talk to friends on Facebook and mobile-based KakaoTalk but wanted a different digital environment in which to communicate with their partners.

Park started promoting the app at Internet cafes and blogs that see heavy traffic from female visitors, based on the logic that its romantic appeal will lean more to the fairer sex.

To expand Between’s user base, Park submitted it to Startup Rally 2012, a competition for new global ventures in Amsterdam, where it was named best mobile app of the year last month. After the app made a splash, he added five European languages.

Early this month it was again feted at China’s G-Startup competition, where it won the runner’s-up prize. The contest was hosted by the Great Wall Club, a gathering of CEOs of Internet and mobile businesses.

However success is a double-edged sword, and copycats have apparently already sprung up.

“An app called Pair that offers a similar service was launched in the U.S. last month,” said Park. “This shows our service has a lot of growth potential.”

This is especially true given that there are more than five million unmarried couples in Korea alone, forming a huge reservoir for Between to tap, he added.

“There are about 12 million unwed couples in Japan, 35 million in the U.S. and 110 million in China,” he said.


By Chung Sun-un [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]

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