S Korea's favorite messaging app enters PH market

by Vincent Paul Garcia, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Aug 08 2013 07:11 PM | Updated as of Aug 09 2013 03:11 AM

MANILA, Philippines - KakaoTalk, South Korea's largest mobile messaging application, will try to woo Filipino chat addicts from rival apps such as LINE, WeChat and Viber.

Boasting over a 100 million registered users in over 23 countries, KakaoTalk is one of the fastest growing mobile messaging applications in the market today.

KakaoTalk offers exclusive features such as group calls, which will allow users to talk with up to 5 people at the same time. They also have thousands of animated stickers for users to choose from.

"Aside from the stability, the speed and the free SMS, I think animated emoticons are something Filipinos would be interested in because they're really cute," said Sonia Im, Kakao's global public relations lead.

But with other mobile messaging applications like LINE and WeChat having entered the market in just the past few months, one would question the timing of KakaoTalk's foray into the country.

But South Korean company Kakao Corp, makers of KakaoTalk, said it is not just here to provide the Filipinos with another store of endless stickers.

"We want to create an ecosystem," said Noah Hwang, Kakao Philippines' public relations lead.

KakaoTalk began as a free mobile messaging service back in 2010, but in just three years, has developed into a social platform that offers a wide range of content and services including business marketing, commerce, games, digital content and fashion.

"This kind of business model is creating a lot of other profits for developers and other third-parties," added Hwang.

"They could use the advertising platform Plus Friend to maximize the traffic here in the Philippines. We also do revenue shares for the game developers so they can actually exploit the KakaoTalk traffic to reach out to all the smartphone users here in the country," said Kakao Philippines' marketing lead Mano Hun.

Plus Friend is a feature exclusive to Kakao that allows users to add celebrity friends in order to keep tab with their daily lives. Users can also add over 220 brand partners for updates with the latest promos.

According to Hwang, global brand UNIQLO reported a 140% increase in revenue since partnering with KakaoTalk.

Another feature only available in KakaoTalk is the KakaoPage, which provides a stage for anyone to create and sell their own digital content such as stickers or other applications, without the need to create another application or worry about marketing.

"We can grow up together," suggested Hwang.

But what will really differentiate KakaoTalk from the other similar applications in the market is their willingness to listen to their users.

According to Im, KakaoTalk differs from country to country because of the different needs and wants from each market.

"We always think that the users are right. We want to listen to user feedback and see what they say and I think that will eventually bring the users to us because we will be reflecting their needs," Im said.

"We're not necessarily the first but we want to be the first to be loved by the Filipino users," Im added.

As part of its promotions, KakaoTalk has tapped popular singer Sarah Geronimo and Kpop super group BigBang for its local TV commercial.

KakaoTalk is now available on IOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows, Bada and PC.