Meitu mulls AI-based content biz, new growth points |

Meitu mulls AI-based content biz, new growth points

By FAN FEIFEI China Daily Updated: 2023-06-28
Wu Xinhong, founder, chairman and CEO of Meitu. [Photo provided to]

Chinese tech company Meitu Inc, which is known for its popular image-editing app and sharing software, is entering the fast-growing artificial intelligence-generated content, or AIGC, business.

It said it will also increase its monetization methods by launching a string of AI-powered tools covering visual creation, commercial photography, professional video editing and commercial design.

Wu Xinhong, founder, chairman and CEO of Meitu, said demand for video creation tools is surging amid a new AI wave triggered by ChatGPT.

AI, he said, will bolster Meitu's VIP subscriptions and SaaS, or software as a service, business, besides further stimulating users' willingness to pay for such services and digital products.

AIGC has brought new opportunities for creative professionals in the digital image field, he said. "The deep combination of AI with image creativity tools will lower the threshold of content creation and improve the production efficiency of the imaging industry to let more people enjoy the dividends brought by AI."

As of June 18, Meitu had 7.19 million VIP users, Wu said. Last year, Meitu's revenue from VIP subscriptions rose more than 57 percent year-on-year to 782 million yuan ($109 million), surpassing online advertising for the first time and becoming the largest revenue contributor.

Meitu will continue to increase investment in research and development and expand its footprint in the business-to-business segment. Its R&D expenditure exceeded 580 million yuan in 2022, accounting for 28 percent of Meitu's total revenue, Wu said.

Meitu's latest visual large AI model is called MiracleVision, which covers painting, design, film, television, photography, games, 3D and animation. Its aesthetic evaluation system is based on machine learning.

Meitu is now eyeing new growth points from SaaS with the launch of MeituEve, which provides AI-powered skin analysis and related SaaS solutions for skincare brands, aesthetic medical clinics and beauty salons.

Chen Duan, director of the Digital Economy Integration Innovation Development Center at the Central University of Finance and Economics, said AIGC will unleash people's demand for tools that can help them to express their creativity, and drive the evolution of commercial models in content production. Although AIGC is still nascent, Chen said he is bullish on its prospects.

Market consultancy Gartner predicts that by 2025, generative AI will account for 10 percent of all data created, compared with less than 1 percent in 2022, and could be used for a range of activities like creating software code, facilitating drug development and targeted marketing.

Meitu's efforts to provide more AI tools for work scenarios will help the company to serve more enterprise users, enrich its monetization channels and bolster its revenue by increasing the number of paying users, said Wang Qinglin, a senior analyst at market consultancy iiMedia Research.

"In the past, AIGC-related technology was mainly used in word processing. Its application scenarios have expanded, buoyed by the maturity and popularity of deep-learning models, which have the capabilities of dealing with text, voice, code, image, video and other types of content," said Guo Tao, deputy head of the China Electronic Commerce Expert Service Center and an expert on internet-based businesses.