Can Facebook Ever Take Down Messaging App KakaoTalk in South Korea? - eMarketer

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Can Facebook Ever Take Down Messaging App KakaoTalk in South Korea?

Users in the country remain loyal to the homegrown platform

May 30, 2017

In addition to being the world’s dominant social media platform, Facebook also holds sway over the messaging app sector in most of the world. Facebook-owned WhatsApp has about 1.2 billion users worldwide, and Facebook Messenger is not far behind, with around 1 billion users.

And while WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are often the market leaders in industrialized countries, that’s not the case everywhere.

South Korea, for example, is one market where homegrown KakaoTalk still maintains a strong position.

Instant Messaging Services Used by Instant Messaging Users in South Korea, Oct 2016 (% of respondents)

According to an October 2016 survey conducted by the Korea Internet & Security Agency (KISA) and the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP) - South Korea, KakaoTalk was the most popular instant messaging service in the country, with 99.2% of messaging users saying they used it frequently. In comparison, just 29.7% said they used Facebook Messenger frequently. WhatsApp was in even worse shape, with 0.1% of respondents using the platform on a frequent basis.

Instant messaging platforms like KakaoTalk are highly popular in South Korea, with KISA and MSIP estimating that 92.5% of internet users had used one in the past year. And the vast majority of these users are accessing messaging platforms via mobile devices.

Kakao Corp., the company behind KakaoTalk, is well-aware of the success platforms like China’s WeChat have had in expanding to include other services. KakaoTalk has followed suit.

Users of the messaging app can now access content like music, play games, make online payments, make restaurant reservations and book hotel rooms via the platform.

All of those features seem to be increasing the “stickiness” of KakaoTalk among its user base. According to Nielsen KoreanClick, users spent an average of 849.6 minutes with the app in November 2016. That compared with an average of 179.6 minutes spent with competitor Line and 28.1 minutes with Facebook Messenger.

Rahul Chadha

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