See the original story in Japanese.
Tokyo-based startup ZoooG recently released an iOS beta version of their new social network app for sharing your voice called Voice. This release comes after the launch of the Android beta version last month, and the company will now be moving forward with marketing expansion throughout Japan, China, and Taiwan. With Voice users can post clips of their own voices, follow users they like and also get followers in a similar fashion to Twitter.
For some time now ZoooG has had a fairly large network with over 100 popular “twitcasters”, literally meaning users of the popular Japanese mobile livecasting app TwitCasting, with total followers reaching 1.9 million. Chisato Tezuka, ZoooG’s founder and CEO, in Fall of last year launched another app from a different company called Fancy Call ( Android / iOS ) which allows users to receive fake phone calls from popular twitcasters. That app had a recorded 80,000 downloads. Struck by the possibility of demand for apps that deal with voice interactions, Tezuka responded by releasing the Voice app.
Tezuka explained his intention,
On the Showroom app (provided by DeNA, there are a lot of people twitcasting and broadcasting on the radio, but there wasn’t a service that specialized in broadcasting individual’s voices to audiences; that’s why I made Voice. In China and Taiwan too, there are many people who post voice contents online casually, so I think the demand for this is big.
With their immediate goal to reach 20,000 downloads in Japan using their information disseminating power of their company’s popular twitcasters, and 10,000 downloads in Taiwan through Facebook promotions. With the market in China being a somewhat unique one, ZoooG will be making use of the popular Chinese video uploading site Bilibili (comparable to Japan’s Nico Nico Douga) among other sites, as well as partnering with Japanese firms proficient in on-site marketing as parts of their business expansion plan.
The Voice app is free to use, but posts will disappear from the service after 24 hours. If a user wants to save a post of his/her own or from someone they are following, the app will request that you upgrade to a paid account in order to use the save feature. In the future ZoooG is considering employing a celebrity endorsement business model similar to the social game monetization.
Other than the Voice app, it may be noted that there was another well known precedent of voice-based social networking, Singapore-based Bubbly (formerly Bubble Motion). Bubbly was acquired by Indian telecom enterprise Altruist Group in August of last year and ended up becoming a platform for posting Indian parody songs. Tezuka sees this as why it never became an app that could be adopted in the global market. He explained that moving forward the Voice app, starting with China and Taiwan, will be expanding into the global markets that Bubbly wasn’t able to reach, including southeast Asian countries with large youth population such as Malaysia and Indonesia.
The Voice development team at ZoooG is comprised of about 10 people, including app developers and collaborators. The team, until now having raised only a couple hundred thousand dollars from private investors, is now considering next round funding as they prepare to expand internationally.
Translated by Connor Kirk
Edited by Masaru Ikeda