China’s new gay match-making smartphone app Blued has amassed 2 million users nationwide in a little over a year, the company’s CEO announced Wednesday amid reports in Chinese state media that internet hook-ups are helping to fuel an HIV/AIDS epidemic in the People’s Republic.
"The customer response has been great," CEO Geng Le told Al Jazeera, adding that he feels his company is part of the solution, not the problem, to China’s HIV/AIDS epidemic. "We have helped the government spread education to combat the HIV/AIDS information."
Geng, a 36-year-old entrepreneur from China’s northern Hebei province, has great ambitions. He estimates that there are 13 million gay men in China. Blued aims to penetrate 10 million smartphones across the country.
"There are so many gays in China, just because of the sheer size of the population," Geng said.
Nevertheless, Blued faces international competition.
Grindr, a popular U.S.-based gay hook-up app, is still not as popular in China as Belgium-based Jack’d, said Shanghai native Clint Wang, 27.
"I use Grindr, but people in China use it so little," he said.
Chinese gay men – including Wang and Geng – typically refer to Jack’d by its Chinese name jie ke di, which literally translates to a place where a sex worker finds his or her John.
Geng says Blued has already surpassed Jack’d in China, and while the Belgian app enjoys strong numbers in big cities like Shanghai, Blued has already monopolized the market in China’s second- and third-tier cities.
"Jack’d doesn’t have great Android capabilities, whereas Blued does," Geng explains.
Jack’d was not immediately available for comment at the time of publication.
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