An app for couples to share photos, messages, and generally chronicle the course of their relationship, is taking off in Asia. “Between,” launched in 2011 by South Korean start up Value Creators & Co, has now been downloaded over 3.75 million times. Most of its users are in South Korea, Japan, and to a lesser extent, America.
The app, which is free to download, lets couples plan dates or curate their favorite photos. And a new features allows couples prone to dramatic gestures to restore deleted data. (The company gets up to 300 requests a day from couples asking how to restore their history.) The app makes money from selling emoticons and targeted advertising, and this year will add a deal service that lets couples send gifts to each other, Value Creator head Jake Park told the Wall Street Journal.
Social networks that aim to be more private or geared to a more specific purpose are thriving around the world. Examples include Path, which limits the number of friends a user can have on the service, and NextDoor, which is designed to be used by neighbors and requires users to authenticate their addresses using a credit card or other means. It remains unclear whether over time users of such social networks will spend less time on Facebook as a result. Other apps for couples include Couple, Simply US, or Avocado.
The fact that Between is so popular in South Korea—where Park estimates that one in five couples uses it—may be a good sign for his goals to reach the rest of Asia. As in other markets where the company wants to expand like Taiwan, Singapore and Japan—where the company already has an office—young professionals in South Korea often work long hours that limit the time they can spend with their significant others. As a result, Koreans tend to send about 70 messages a day to their significant other on the app.
An ad for Between in South Korea:
Traditional disapproval of public affection makes the sharing service another way for couples to express their feelings—aside from matching t-shirts. But perhaps what’s more important is the new sense of privacy it affords.
Park attributes Between’s popularity to “social network fatigue” in highly digitally connected societies like South Korea. The term “digital dementia“—a decline in one’s cognitive abilities because of an over reliance on smart phones or gaming devices—was coined in South Korea. Internet addiction is a problem in Taiwan, Japan and elsewhere in Asia too.
Still, one problem that the app might run into is high turnover in the app’s user base. According Park, relationships on Between last about a year on average.