South Korean Mobile Messenger Service Set to Begin Global Campaign

By Beecher Tuttle April 11, 2011

Kakao, the maker of South Korea's highly popular mobile messaging service, said on Monday that it will employ an aggressive overseas strategy in an effort to compete with the likes of Facebook and Twitter.

The startup company's chairman and founder, Kim Beom-su, told reporters that it will establish subsidiaries in the United States and Japan with an aim at attracting 20 million users by the end of the year. The firm's mobile messaging app, Kakao Talk, has become a viable alternative to text messaging and email and recently attracted its 10 millionth registered user. Fairly impressive considering Kakao Talk was just launched in March last year.

"One could only lag behind in this market if it doesn't have global competitiveness," Kim noted at the press conference. "Although we're only a startup venture firm, we believe we will meet global companies like Facebook and Twitter down the road. This is not a dream but a challenge."

Kakao Talk is currently used by people in more than 200 countries, although about 90 percent of the users are from South Korea, according to the Korea Herald. Approximately 200 million mobile messages are sent and received each day using the service.

About 40 percent of the 1 million overseas users are from United States, while 15 percent reside in Japan. Kim pointed to the fact that another 15 percent live in the Middle East – a region not highly populated with Korean-born residents.

"I think this is a good example that shows the possible high success rate of entering overseas markets in the mobile era," he said.

Kakao does more than just provide messaging services. The app also offers group chatting functionality and enables the sharing of photos and videos. Kim said that the company will look to expand upon these services to cover music, Web cartoons, movies and even social commerce services, according to the Korea Joongang Daily.

Beecher Tuttle is a TechZone360 contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

TechZone360 Contributor

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