Although KakaoTalk may not be doing as well outside of its home country as fellow Asian apps WeChat and LINE, the messaging application is holding its own very well within South Korean borders; According to Nielsen (via Bloomberg), Kakao can be found on 93 percent of smartphones in the country. For a country that has a 73 percent penetration rate in smartphones, this is actually very good.
In addition to its excellent penetration in South Korea, profits are also very good for Kakao, which expects to generate about $200 million in revenue from its application, including its localized games, and other content, up from #42 million last year.
Getting outside its home country, which takes a 70 million user chunk of the app’s user base.
There are some inconsistencies with the numbers, however, that we’re trying to clear up. Back on December 17, Kakao Co-CEO Sirgoo Lee reportedly claimed that the app had 120 million users worldwide; now less than a week later the user count stands at 130 million. While it’s possible that 10 million new users were added in the last 5 days — not likely, as this would give it about eight times the growth rate of WhatsApp and its more than 250,000 new active users per day — the 70 million total registered user count in South Korea is a little confusing in a country with only 50 million people. We’ll update this article once we’re able to get these figures confirmed.
Kakao looks to countries “where there isn’t a predominant player” for further expansion outside South Korea
Lee says the company hopes to increase its presence in Indonesia, where it currently has 13 million registered users according to previous reports. KakaoTalk isn’t looking at every market, however, and will only focus on certain markets at a time. The Philippines, Vietnam, and anywhere “where there isn’t a predominant player” are also being eyed by the company, the executive told Bloomberg.
What could this mean? Well, for starters it could mean KakaoTalk’s trademark yellow logo could see a slight color change, and the application’s user interface “might become different” to fit the local markets in which it expands. Would this be confusing to users? It’s hard to say, but if it means rapid expansion and continued success for KakaoTalk as it tries to step ahead of its growing competition, it is a road that might be worth traversing.