Japanese startup Wantedly tackles contact management with new iPhone app



I often hear people complain that there is a lack of good contact manager apps available of smartphones. I personally have experimented with a few, most recently Contact Sync for Gmail – which is good, but doesn’t quite cut it for me. So I was delighted to hear recently from the folks at Tokyo-based startup Wantedly that they were working on a contacts management app for iPhone [1]. That app, appropriately dubbed Contact, has just gone public today in the Japanese App Store, so I’m happy to tell you a little about it after having a chance to test it pre-release.

When you initially fire up the Contact app, you’ll be asked to authorize access to your mobile’s contacts, and after that your Facebook contacts as well. Note that by authorizing Facebook, you also get a chance to view Wantedly contacts as well (since the Wantedly job platform connects with Facebook), marked with a big blue ‘W’ in the app. Contacts can also be added manually to the app if you wish.

Once your contacts have all been added, you can get down to organizing them into handy groups. Like any contact app, groups could be based around anything. But the most important group, labeled with a phone icon, are the people you call on a regular basis. So once you have this group created, you can call out in a flash from within the contacts app.


Beyond the phone group, you might organize a group for work (see my The Bridge group above), doing so using simple drag-and-drop, with various icons assigned to each group. If you add someone by mistake, just drag them out of the group and into a trash can that conveniently appears. Wantedly has built in a clever marketing device into its group label icons, letting users earn as many as 120 new icons by sharing about the app on Facebook and Twitter.

Check out the video demo below for a closer look at how the app works:

I was a little curious to hear why Wantedly was branching out to do a contacts app, given that the business of the Wantedly platform is helping people find fitting jobs by leveraging their social graph. During a recent visit to Wantedly HQ, the company’s CEO Akiko Naka explained to me:

Most people recognize Wantedly as a job searching site. But many people are starting to use it as their profile. Not only people who are searching for jobs, but for people who are working. So our team started to think we should start building something for everyone, not just people who are searching for jobs. Organizing your contacts is one of the biggest problems people have. There are many contacts grouping apps, but not of them are that cool, perhaps lacking in design or user interface. I thought we could do it better.

Wantedly CEO Akiko Naka
Wantedly CEO Akiko Naka

And personally, I think they have done it better, because the app looks pretty incredible. Perhaps the only feature additions I would request are data sync or export (perhaps to Dropbox), and maybe a batch delete/move contact option to manipulate multiple contacts, instead of having to drag and drop contacts one-by-one.

Given that the app is only available in Japanese right now [2], I had to ask Akiko the obvious question of whether or not they plan to publish an English version – to which she replied with a very short “Yup.”

Wantedly is a service that I’ve been expecting to launch in overseas markets at just about any moment now. They already have an English interface, so I’m looking forward to seeing them branch out when that day comes. But Akiko noted that if a contacts app like theirs is to succeed in a certain region, it helps if they are a trusted and recognized name in that region:

In Japan people know Wantedly pretty widely, so they aren’t scared to connect your contacts with it. In the US, maybe, then there might be a bit of a hurdle. Maybe Southeast Asia first.

If you have access to the Japanese App Store, I encourage you to give Contact a try. I’ve tried a lot of contact management apps in the past, and this has turned out to be one of my favorites.

  1. See our previous interview with Wantedly CEO Akiko Naka.  ↩

  2. But if you can download it from the App Store, I think there’s no reason you can’t use it even if you don’t speak Japanese. The app is very simple, with very little text.  ↩