Highly anticipated Japanese app ‘Class’ proposes school-like social experience



See the original article in Japanese

Class, an app that has received much attention here in Japan even before its release, has finally launched. It’s a sort of social networking app where six users who don’t know each other form a virtual class for 15 days where they can interact with each other. Check out the video below for a more visual explanation of the concept.

Yukinari Mako, the CEO of we-b, the company that operates the service, explained how he came up with the idea.

When you’re busy working for a company, it can be difficult to make new friends. So I came up with the idea of creating new social opportunities for people who have the same problem.

At school, we can easily make friends, because students share the same age and meet at the same location for class. My concept is based on the school experience that everyone understands. I decided to provide the same kind of experience on a digital platform.

There are many online social services like Line, Path and Facebook. Is Class competing with these services? Mako says that those services are intended to strengthen existing friendships. But Class has a different concept. Mako adds:

There is no service that really focuses on building friendships from scratch. I am aiming to make Class into a major SNS.

Class キャプチャーイメージ

So what is the app experience like? The user participates in the virtual class for two weeks until ‘graduation day’. In the class, some features are in place to enhance communication. There is a teacher character who encourages users’ interaction, and there are features that encourage users to share photos after lunch and exchange questions with each other.

The service uses Facebook credentials for login, but users remain anonymous in the service. Mako said that being anonymous would let users feel more comfortable about interacting.

The fee for Class will be free for a while. They plan to develop a paid system to charge for new classes later on. Mako expects that the Class experience can lead to real-life events and the company can monetize from there.

Class aims to reach 100,000 users in its first six months and 1 million users by the end of 2014. The app can be downloaded via the website.