If you have ever contemplated posting a selfie on social media, chances are you probably wish you didn't have that pimple on your chin or those dark circles under your eyes.
Enter photo-editing apps.
The selfie culture is turbo-charging the growth of photo retouching software such as Facetune, a platform offering complex editing functions in a simple app format. Initially introduced around six years ago, Facetune quickly climbed to the top of the download charts, becoming a global hit and Apple’s most popular paid app of 2017. It is especially embraced by the Instagram community who leverage the platform to perfect themselves in the digital realm by whitening teeth, slimming down a body part or smoothing skin.
Last week, Facetune’s parent company Lightricks raised $135M from the likes of Goldman Sachs and CalTech at a $1 billion valuation, showing that photo editing apps are a booming trend. Having been valued at $330 million in November, the Israel-based company has tripled in value in the space of nine months.
As of August 2019, Facetune has grossed over $18 million for its developer and remains wildly popular in the US and Europe in spite of stiff competition from a slew of Chinese makeover apps permeating the Western markets.
Interestingly, Asian countries such as China, Thailand, India, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines embrace photo retouching apps considerably more than their Western counterparts. In this region, Chinese startup Meitu’s BeautyPlus holds the crown as the most popular photo editing tool.
Widely regarded as a pioneer in image retouching software, Meitu has developed a suite of other photo editing apps including Airbush, PlusMe Camera and Pomelo. This year alone, the company’s apps have been downloaded on over 52 million Android and Apple devices globally.
BeautyPlus is Meitu’s star app and boasts over 20 million daily active users. In July, installations for BeautyPlus surpassed 7 million, with Indian users accounting for 55% of total downloads. The app has also found staunch supporters in North America, with Priori Data stats depicting that 29% of the app’s July revenue rooted from US users.
Historically, there have been pretty major differences in how Asian and Western users manipulate their photos. In Europe and the US, users (for the most part) continue to post photos of themselves that have been subject to only discreet retouching whereas in countries like China, Thailand and The Philippines, consumers have typically amped up beautification. That said, during the past year there has been an increasing trend of Asian users’ aesthetic standards shifting to a more natural one. Agile players such as Meitu and Facetune have been alert to such trends and rolled out new features to sustain their user base and attract new users.
Editing photos has rapidly become an integral part of our web life and with selfie culture continuing to transform, the photo editing app market remains as dynamic as it is fast growing. Our two cents – as long as there is Instagram or Tinder, we remain optimistic about the industry’s long-term prospects.