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(The Bridge) – Did you know that a photo-sharing campaign called #2015bestnine has swept the social media sphere around the world? It allows users to curate the year’s top nine photos having acquired most ‘likes’ on their Instagram timeline and put them into a collage image to share on social media with other users. Since this service has penetrated worlwide in a winkling of an eye, about 15 million people including celebrities like Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Michelle Obama and Donald Trump, have been reportedly enjoying its use.

The campaign was conducted by Tokyo-based Lip, a Japanese startup also known for its matchmaking apps like Lemon and 5pm, aiming to tether a new mobile app just launched globally today. The company launched a mobile app called Nine for iOS, which is available on iTunes AppStore worldwide. Thanks to the successful result of the #2015bestnine campaign, the app went live today but has already acquired 130,000 users worldwide, especially from New York City and Los Angeles.

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Nine is a mobile matchmaking app for Instagrammers, allowing them to curate top nine photos having acquired most ‘likes’ on their Instagram timeline over the past year and put them into a collage image to be placed on their profile page. Users can connect with others who may have a similar feeling by repeating flick-right to connect or -left to pass, much in a manner similar to the Tinder app.

The app is based on an remarkably interesting idea but I’m curious as to how they will make money. In response to this my question, Lip co-founder and CEO Yusuke Matsumura explained: Thanks to the appeal of simplicity in expressing someone’s inner character and outer appearance with as little as nine pictures, Nine’s user base is rapidly increasing by the day. Lip co-founder Mai Sekiguchi told us that 75% of their users are females, which is very unlikely for this kind of apps. In proportion to the geographical demographics of Instagram users, the Nine app has 40% of their users in the US, followed by Indonesia and UK. Due to acquisition of a huge user base in Android-dominant markets, the team plans to release an Android version in mid-February.

We will provide a premium plan for a monthly subscription fee of $9.99 or 1,200 YEN. It will provide three premium functions: unlimited likes, neighborhood discovery and unlimited more photos.

Unlimited Likes and Unlimited More Photos will allow users to display photos from a wider variety of those in an archive than the maximum limit for the freemium edition. Neighborhood Discovery will allow users to connect with other users in the same city or town while the default freemium setting will connect users with each others within 50 kilometers. Lip thinks they will flexibly alter these settings or criteria for the premium menu while analyzing user behaviors.

Founded in November 2014, Lip raised an undisclosed amount of funding in November 2015 from CyberAgent Ventures, Venture United, Incubate Fund and Primal Capital, in addition to accepting individual investment from Japanese mobile gaming developer Colopl’s co-founder Kotaro Chiba.

Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy



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