Chinese gay-targeted app differentiates with interest groups

Summary:All-gay team launches China's first social networking app, Zank, which targets gay men. Its founder denies the app is a copy of popular U.S. mobile app, Jack'd, saying it differentiates by prioritizing members' shared interests.

zankapp
Zank promotes common interests among users, rather than sex.

The maker of China's first social networking app, Zank, denies copying a popular U.S. gay app and says the company differentiates its service by prioritizing common interests among its members. 

Released last month, Zank looks like a copycat version of the popular  app Jack'd which also targets gay men. However, its founder who goes by the  nickname "Lin Jueding", said when his team developed the app three months ago, it wanted to differentiate the service by placing shared interests and communication as a higher priority--instead of promoting sex.

Available on Apple iTunes and Google Play appstores, Zank attracted over 20,000 subscribers in the first three days after it launched. While this may not be an astronomical number, it is still impressive in terms of user penetration rate, Lin said during a recent speech held in Shenzhen.

Different from the "hook up or shut up" style Jack'd adopts, he said Zank highlights various events organized by its subscribers, individuals or gay organizations on its front page, allowing all users to check the event time and venue. It also lists the organizer's particulars such as picture, height, and weight. Interested users can sign up for the events through the app or  chat with each other online.

Lin was also the founder of China's first gay social network site, Feizan.com, which has over 300,000 registered users. The site adopts the same rule as Zank, promoting members' shared interests rather than sex, he said.

He noted that a significant trait among gay users is loyalty. As they are in a minority group in China, gay men tend to have a sense of recognition toward a gay social network product. "It is our product," said Lin. 

A user comment on Zank from Apple's App Store reads: "Fabulous, it is the best gay app in China. I feel our gay community is receiving more attention now and I am very proud of this." Such user comments give Lin the reason and motivation to improve the app, he said.

Zank currently relies on its parent site, Feizan.com, for marketing and to provide value-added services such as subscription services. Members of Lin's all-gay team are from leading IT companies in China such as Baidu, Sina, and JD. But to increase diversity, the founder said he would consider recruiting lesbian and heterosexual members in future.

Topics: Apps, China, Google Apps

About

Liu Jiayi is a Hong Kong-based writer and editor.He produces video stories for Al Jazeera English and Severn News Australia, and also worked as the video editor for the Hong Kong-San Francisco Ocean Film Festival 2012. He is studying under a Master of Journalism Programme at the University of Hong Kong.

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