Why Korean messaging apps are getting popular in PH
MANILA, Philippines – KakaoTalk and LINE, mobile instant messengers are fast becoming popular around the world, including the Philippines.
Developed by South Korean companies, KakaoTalk and LINE are already in use on Korea, Japan, Europe, and Southeast Asia. The number of KakaoTalk and LINE users total is now more than 3 billion.
KakaoTalk is a free mobile messenger application for smartphones. Released in March 2010, as Korea’s first mobile instant messenger, over 90 percent of Korea’s smartphone owners use KakaoTalk. As of June 2013, KakaoTalk had 1 billion registered users.
KakaoTalk supports 12 languages, including English, Spanish and Japanese, and is available in 230 countries. The vast majority of the KakaoTalk user base, however, is in Korea. In Korea, “Send me a message” is rarely heard. Instead, people say “Katalk me.”
LINE is a also a South Korean communication application for instant messaging on smartphones and PCs. Line began in summer 2011 as a communication system for NHN Japan employees, a branch of NHN Corporation, which is a Korean company. It showed explosive growth after released in June of that year.
By July 21, 2013 LINE had been downloaded 200 million times worldwide. In Japan it has 45 million users, Taiwan and Thailand 15 million each, and Spain and Indonesia 10 million each.
But what makes Kakao Talk and LINE so successful? Here are five keys to its success:
The most significant feature of KakaoTalk and LINE is that they provide free call and text messaging service. Also, users can share photos, videos, voice messages, and URL links to their friends.
Both one-on-one chat and group chats are available over Wifi or 3G, and there are no limits to the number of friends to join in group chat.
Recently, users in group chats can do free call. Furthermore, if someone doesn't want to call in group chats, he or she can push ignore button. LINE app also allows group chatting with up to 100 people at once, both on Wi-Fi and cellular network.
Both KakaoTalk and LINE provide convenience. Before the KakaoTalk and LINE, early MIMs weren't user-friendly and one needed to subscribe before getting services.
Now, both KakaoTalk and LINE automatically synchronize with user’s contact lists by using the phone numbers stored in user’s mobile phone and find friends who are on the service.
Users can also search friends by KakaoTalk ID or LINE ID without having to know each other's phone number. LINE also provides other ways to connect with friends, by shaking the phone and using QR codes. KakaoTalk even shows unregistered friends they may know.
Stickers & emoticons
Another factor that contributed to KakaoTalk and LINE's success is their sticker service. Using stickers makes chatting more fun for users.
LINE has its original expressive stickers and emoticons. Users can purchase stickers as gifts, but many stickers are available as free downloads, depending on country availability. Purchased stickers are directly attached to an account and can be used on other platforms. New sticker sets are released weekly.
KakaoTalk also provides stickers through its Item Store. The animated stickers and emoticons allow users to express their feelings in more appropriate ways. Like LINE, purchased stickers are stored to user’s account, and users could give stickers to others as gifts.
These MIMs are now also providing games. Using KakaoTalk and LINE, you can meet other game users, and connect friends through games.
KakaoTalk’s “Playing Game” service was released in 2012, and in less than a month, Ani Pang and Dragon Flight joined the ranks of the Korea’s most popular games. Now there are 30 million users with Ani Pang. Similarly, only a year after its launch, Kakao’s mobile gaming platform has almost 200 games and 30 million users, generating $311 million in revenue in the first half of 2013.
LINE also provides mobile games such as LINEPOP. In early 2013, the number of accumulated downloads of LINE games exceeds 1 billion.
These two messaging services are still growing, since they are focusing on worldwide users more and more. Stickers of KakaoTalk and LINE are tailored to local users.
KakaoTalk and LINE tries to introduce more stickers which are produced by local celebrities, artists and cartoonists.
In early 2013, KakaoTalk had aired TV commercials in Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam by using famous K-pop group Big Bang. In the commercial, local celebrities and BigBang appears together on the screen and promote KakaoTalk. In the Philippines, pop star Sarah Geronimo was tapped as the brand ambassador for KakaoTalk.
LINE is now using ‘soccer’ as its global marketing strategy to attract European and Southeast Asian users. It now has a FC Barcelona (FCB) official account and stickers. FCB star player characters will appear in LINE games. LINE also tapped Filipino actress Jessy Mendiola and actor Matteo Guidicelli for its TV commercials.