See the original story in Japanese.
Tokyo-based Astool has globally launched their multi-functional mobile web browser app Smooz today. iOS and Androd versions are available on iTunes AppStore and Google Play respectively. The app was initially launched only for iOS on the Japanese market back in September of 2016. The company marked 20,000 downloads within as short as one week since that launch, also having driven 200,000 app installs organically to date. Because the app has been continuously adding functions via frequent updates according to user feedback, it has been updated about 40 times within 18 months since the launch.
With the aim of “one-handed browsing” being enabled for users, the app has added functions like in-app QR code reading and gesture-based control (ver 1.6), character recognition and automated tab arrangement (ver 1.7), translation and ID/password saving (ver 1.9), bulk article generation from bookmarks (ver 1.16) in addition to three major functions available since the first version: search word prediction making use of artificial intelligence, functionally-thoughtful tab interface and smart bookmarks. The company said it has decided to start global expansion because it got a 4.7 star rating on average from Japanese users who are said to have strict user experience measurements.
The Smooz app targets a power user niche adhering to comfortable user interface rather than becoming mass favorites. In view of FireFox having won 12% market share in Japan despite being non-OS native desktop web browser, Astool is targeting about 2% of the entire global population of 2.2 billion smartphone users.
Astool, as founded back in February of 2016 by Yuichi Kato who was previously managing the Viber app at Rakuten and subsequently developed an AppleWatch for tennis players called TennisCore. The company raised about $140,000 US for a $930,000 valuation from Skyland Ventures and several angel investors back in August of 2016 (seed round), followed by securing about $790,000 US from Fan Communications (TSE:2461) and angel investor Masao Ito (pre-series A round), in addition to having been chosen as a finalist for the Launch Pad pitch competition at Infinity Ventures Summit 2017 Spring last year.
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy