Cooliris courts photo-crazed Japan with new localization


Occasionally the folks from Palo Alto-based Cooliris swing through Tokyo as part of efforts to promote their photo sharing service in Asia. Our readers may recall that we spoke with them back in March, when they were making good progress in China with an early partnerships with social service Renren. So I was curious to see how Cooliris has progressed since then, both in China and Japan, and in surrounding Asian regions.

CEO Soujanya Bhumkar tells me that China has seen particularly solid growth, with a 30% increase in downloads in the last quarter making the Middle Kingdom their number two install base after the US. They’ve made significant localization efforts in China, now with Sina Weibo on board as a connected service. Users can browse Weibo photos using the slick Cooliris interface, diving deep to explore pictures from various users, as well as those from people they follow or are followed by. Tencent Weibo and Baidu Yun are now also supported Cooliris services, having been added over the past year.

Japanese interface

Interestingly, India has been a new growth market for them thanks to increased smartphone adoption there, now suddenly a top ten country for Cooliris.

Japan, which previously was Cooliris’s second biggest market, still remains one of their top five markets. But with the latest update of the Cooliris iOS app, Japanese localization has been added. I understand that the company isn’t going to be making significant marketing efforts, but the localization at least makes it more accessible here. They’ll continue to try to serve Japanese users in later versions.

Considering that Cooliris now supports integration with so many social services, the missing puzzle piece for the company here in Japan is obviously Line. The team couldn’t tell me too much on this point, but obviously users here would definitely like to see such an integration. So Line users should keep their fingers crossed, and stay tuned [1].

The Cooliris app has a few other significant changes recently, as Soujanya and his VP of business development Sebastian Blum (he’s the guy in the video above) inform me that the app’s group function is now the number one driver of user acquisition and user retention. Groups could be as small as just two people sharing photos privately, or it could be many more. Groups can be based around certain activities like weddings, vacations, with discussion happening on Cooliris even before that event takes place.

As I was speaking with Soujanya, I happened to have Yammer open on my Mac, as that’s one of the collaborative tools that we use here at The Bridge. He pointed out to me that while there are many corporate collaborative tools like this, there are few collaborate options for consumers. People’s photo experience is typically fragmented across multiple service and multiple friends, and Cooliris gives people a chance to bring them together in one place.

In total they have seen over 3 billion photos brought into the Cooliris app, and over 1 billion photo engagements [2]. And for those who share photos in many different online places, it will continue to be a useful service. Whether it can pick up some more steam in photo-crazy Japan remains to be seen, but this new localization is an encouraging first step.




  1. I confess, I used Cooliris for a while this year, but eventually drifted away from it. My mobile photo use is primarily restricted to Notabli, a family-focused photo app. I use Flickr as storage for pictures taken with my DSLR, but the majority of them are private. But I can see the potential of Cooliris for people more social than myself.  ↩

  2. I understand that an engagement is when you tap on a photo and view it in higher resolution.  ↩