Approaching 2M downloads, Japan’s mobile news app Gunosy gets a makeover to attract female users


Gunosy CEO Yoshinori Fukushima

See the original article in Japanese

Japan’s leading news curation app Gunosy has been given an overhaul. To learn more about how it has changed, we caught up with the company’s co-CEOs, Yoshinori Fukushima and Shinji Kimura, at their recently relocated office.

Before the renewal, Gunosy served 25 articles to users´ smartphones twice a day, based on topics they are interested in. While many users find this limited curation feature helpful, the company also faced the problem of providing a wide-range of news to its users. Kimura told us:

When more people started using the app, we found that it lacked the ability to provide a wide-range of news and more detailed news. […] Many users still use multiple news apps, not just Gunosy. We were aiming to provide a one-stop solution.

Personally I use other apps like SmartNews to check news in a specific category (mostly technology), so I think it’s quite helpful that Gunosy has incorporated several categories.

The design overhaul, including an icon change, was intended to attract more female users. A simple icon with just the letter of G doesn’t really fit well on more feminine-looking smartphone screens.

Here is the a look at Gunosy’s new interface:


The formerly simple icon has been changed one featuring a colorful paper plane. The plane is based on the concept of delivering news to users.


They’ve incorporated flat design, using a color palette that makes a more neutral impression.


This redesign looks to be a remarkable turning point for Gunosy. The service had not let users choose news themselves, but now it lets users to select information by indicating multiple categories.


The new app has now 11 different categories. According to the co-CEOs, the targeted demographic is in their twenties and thirties who don´t read newspapers anymore but still they feel that they should. This answer, in a way, represents the young generation in Japan very well.

We’re told that downloads of the Gunosy app are now around 1.8 million, creeping up on the 2 million downloads milestone. Over twenty employees work in their newly relocated office. I erroneously assumed that most of their members are developers, but actually almost half of them work in the company’s business operations. After the startup began selling ads, they needed to add more operational staff.

Regarding the structure of their team, I asked them if they plan to have an editorial department in the future. Fukushima tells us:

I think it would be interesting to have an editorial team. But if we had one, it would be quite different a general editorial team. It would be a unique team to deal with special tasks. For example, a picture of homicide was shown on the top page the other day. I thought we had to change it, considering the feelings people involved. There are things like this which only a human can edit.

A human hand could play an important role in Gunosy´s engine in the future. But overall I think the team is doing really interesting work in terms of news distribution and content management.

Technology created by a few university students just a few years ago is now making a real difference in news distribution.

Shinji Kimura. He went right back to work after the interview.

Gunosy´s office, which was recently relocated. There was still some vacant space there, perhaps reserved for future members.