Why Is Chinese App Meitu An Overnight Sensation?

Has your timeline been flooded with selfies that seem to have undergone way beyond filter? It might be Meitu, the Chinese beautifying app that has been suddenly rocking Western social media.

Think of Meitu as a virtual makeup app complete with filters, retouching tools, collages, scenes, frames, photo decorations, and the like. It allows you take selfies or upload pictures from your camera roll. Uploading photos for editing allowed a viral trend of turning people into anime characters.

One of the more prevalent uses of the beauty app has been to upload edited photos of Donald Trump looking all cutesy (or kawaii in Japanese). Some known names who have been given the anime makeover include La La Land star Ryan Gosling, Father of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg, and of course, politicians.

The photo-editing app which is free and available for iOS and Android devices, has been around for a few years and has been especially popular in Asia, the home of kawaii and pirakura machines. It was first developed in 2008 by Chinese company Xiamen Meitu Technology. By the time 2014 rolled in, the simple app was valued at a whopping 2 billion dollars. The company is said to be aiming for a $3 billion valuation for Hong Kong IPO.

For a very long time, the Meitu app was ranked low in the "Photos & Video" part of US Apple app store. After the app's very first 2017 update on January 10 which includes cross-dimensional camera and hand-drawn photo filters, Meitu managed to jump to the No. 4 spot. Sensor Tower says the app was downloaded about 230,000 times in the US since January 2016. Apparently, 10 percent of the downloads come from last week. According to Meitu, the app been installed on more than a billion devices while having 456 million active users and 6 billion cute photos made per month.

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