Hype or blow? What to know about the Gen Z photo-sharing app that’s climbing the charts – TechCrunch

An application called Be real, based by a former GoPro employee Alexis Barreyat in the same way Kevin Perreau, launched in December 2019 with its idea of ​​asking users to post an unretouched photo once a day after receiving a push notification. Upon receiving the alert, the user has up to 2 minutes to share what they are up to and can see the photos their friends have also posted.

The app is simple to use, capturing a selfie and a front-facing photo simultaneously – an experience that brings back fond memories of the long-lost Frontback photo app. (TO TEAR).

The company explains that this experience gives users a chance to show off who they really are.

The concept itself is not entirely new. Besides Frontback’s use of dual cameras, a similar idea involving push notifications emerged amid a wave of apps trying to hijack Instagram users a few years ago.

Picture credits: Be real

An application called Minor details, launched in 2017, helped pioneer the same concept that BeReal is now capitalizing on: alerts that ask users to take what they’re doing now. Minutiae co-founder Martin Adolfsson recently lamented to TechCrunch that BeReal “borrowed a lot” from his idea while touting its authenticity, much to his distress.

Unfortunately, ideas are not patents. And we’ve seen many apps and products over the years deliver similar social experiences where one truly becomes the smash hit of their time. Watch Qik versus Ustream.tv; Gowalla versus Foursquare; Phhhoto versus Boomerang; We Heart It vs. Pinterest; or, more recently, TikTok against anyone trying to clone it.

Additionally, while Minutiae would allow users to browse photos of strangers around the world, BeReal caters more directly to groups of real-life friends.

There is some demand for new photo-sharing apps among younger users who are tired of Instagram’s constant changes, its stuffing of new features like Reels and Shopping, and its overly polished creator content. Other apps, like Minutiae and BeReal, have also experimented with unique photo-sharing experiences in an effort to drive Instagram users away with varying degrees of success.

Poparazzi – an app that turned Instagram’s tagging feature into its essence – rose to the top of the App Store using a series of growth hacks not too long ago. It has since seen its popularity fade and is now #87 in the Photo & Video category on the US App Store.

Another application, Dispo, delayed releasing your digital shots to give themselves a nostalgic feel, but speaking to a generation that has never known what it is to expect prints. It also didn’t become the next new Instagram and is now #143 in photo and video on the App Store.

Picture credits: Apptopia

BeReal, meanwhile, has been around for a few years. But an app intelligence company Apptopia noted earlier this month that 65% of its lifetime downloads occurred in 2022 and that its monthly active users are up 315% year-to-date. Today, the firm offered updated numbers to TechCrunch. He revealed that BeReal has had 7.67 million downloads year-to-date, representing 74.5% of its lifetime installs. France (where the app is based) and the United States lead the way, with 20.5% and 19.7% installs, respectively.

The company attributes growth to a combination of word-of-mouth, BeReal’s college ambassador program and newer features like WidgetMoji and RealMoji – the former which puts your friends in a home screen widget, and the latter which lets you react with stickers in iMessage conversations. However, this level of rapid growth usually involves spending on marketing or advertising, not just organic adoption, which would be a slower, less abrupt increase.

Picture credits: Apptopia

BeReal would have the funds. The app supported by a16z and Accel raised $30 million in a Serie A last year. It sure looks like it used up some of that money.

And it turns out that at least some of BeReal’s growth had been fabricated to make the app watch like it was a viral hit. Students from Brown’s student newspaper reported that BeReal was paying them $30 per referral and $50 for an app download with review. Students would receive the money through PayPal or Venmo, they said. Other student ambassadors held events and handed out perks, like free boba, to recruit new users, report says Rice University Student Paper.

The current ambassador program runs from January to June 2022, according to BeReal’s website. (BeReal declined to speak to TechCrunch, saying they “are not ready for media [sic]. »

There’s nothing really wrong with acquiring paid users – it’s how the app ecosystem works, after all. Additionally, some paying users become engaged and loyal. That’s the point !

BeReal is having success with this model so far: Apptopia says daily active users have reached 2.93 million at the time of writing.

It also has a 4.8 rating from nearly 22,000 user reviews on the App Store and a 4.5 rating from nearly 15,000 reviews on Google Play. It’s the #4 app in the entire US app store right now.

That said, it’s a little frustrating to see apps engaged in buying installs and five-star reviews. writing so definitively as Gen Z new favorite toy, in articles describing app growth as organic. There may very well be some word of mouth interest here, but that interest has been combined with good paid app installs.

In the early days of the App Store, there were more direct channels for this type of download funnel, until Apple cracked down on companies that “buy” their growth. But that only led to more paying user acquisition efforts behind the scenes. Today, in addition to traditional channels – like online ads/social ads, billboards, TV, etc. – we see things like “viral” TikToks that were actually undisclosed influencer marketing deals. Or, as with BeReal, college ambassadors are paid to promote an app to a target demographic.

The latter can actually work if the hype puts the app in front of users who end up being charmed by the experience and stick with it.

BeReal probably has some good user acquisition fuel ahead of it. And since its gimmick is all about enabling push notifications, it could build user loyalty over time. But there’s still a long way to go to prove that it can be part of users’ daily rotation – something we won’t know until paid acquisition efforts slow down and the app is no longer on its own in the competitive landscape.

Still, we have to like the BeReal download URL: it’s bere.al/downloadthedamnthing.

Well, why not!

Lance B. Holton