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|Initial release||March 18, 2010|
|Operating system||iOS, macOS, Android, Bada, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Windows NT, Nokia Asha|
|Available in||15 languages|
|Type||Instant messaging client|
KakaoTalk (Hangul: 카카오톡), or sometimes KaTalk, is a free mobile instant messaging application for smartphones with free text and free call features. It was launched on March 18, 2010 and is currently available on iOS, Android, Bada OS, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Nokia Asha, Windows and macOS.
As of May 2017, KakaoTalk had 220 million registered and 49 million monthly active users. It is available in 15 languages. The app is also used by 93% of smartphone owners in South Korea, where it is the number one messaging app.
In addition to free calls and messages, KakaoTalk users can share diverse content and information including photos, videos, voice messages, location, URL links as well as contact information. Both one-on-one and group chats are available over WiFi, 3G or LTE and there are no limits to the number of friends who can join in on a group chat.
KakaoTalk automatically synchronizes the user’s contact list on their smartphones with the contact list on KakaoTalk to find friends who are on the service. Users can also search friends by KakaoTalk ID without having to know each other's phone number. The KakaoTalk service also allows its users to export their messages and save them for future reference.
KakaoTalk began as a messenger service, but has transformed itself into a platform for the distribution of various third party content and apps, including hundreds of games, which users can download and play with their friends through the messaging platform.
Through the "Plus Friend" feature on KakaoTalk, users can follow brands, media and celebrities to receive exclusive messages, coupons and other real-time information through KakaoTalk chatrooms. Users can also purchase real-life goods through the messenger's "Gifting" platform, such as Starbucks coffee or jewelry.
Besides those listed above, KakaoTalk has these additional features:
- VoiceTalk, free calls and conference calls (with support for up to five people)
- Photo, video, location, and contact information sharing
- Polling and scheduling feature for members in the chatroom
- K-pop & Local Star Friends (Plus Friends)
- Customizable themes (for iOS and Android)
- Game platform
- Stickers and animated emoticons
- First mobile messenger to acquire ISO 27001 certification
- KakaoPay (for South Korean users), a mobile payment and digital wallet service.
Company business model
KakaoTalk, a free mobile messenger application for smartphones, revealed its first profits of $42 million in 2012 and $200 million in revenue for 2013 With 93% of South Korea's population using KakaoTalk on their smartphones, Kakao Corp. has provided users a large range of services including games and retail commerce.
In 2012, KakaoTalk released a new emoticon service called Kakao Friends. Emoticons have long been popular in Korea, with Doll and Other Daily Necessity being the most popular. In September 2015, KakaoTalk entered the corportate messaging market with the launch of Kakao AllimTalk service which enables companies to send out data-heavy messages without having to add recipients as friends on KakaoTalk.
Following criticism of the South Korean government's response to the Sewol Ferry Disaster, Korean authorities announced a "zero-tolerance policy" which involved investigation and detention of individuals deemed to be spreading libel through Internet media. Some KakaoTalk users have received notices that their messaging accounts were searched by South Korean authorities. Apprehension about government surveillance has driven many KakaoTalk users to other messaging services such as Telegram which they believe to be more secure. Now there are multiple chat options such as open chat, regular chat and also secret chat.
A solitary chat room is a kind of open chat room, where many anonymous people gather to talk about specific topics, and you should communicate with images without using text or emoticons. In other words, it is making a story out of images only. Similar chat rooms have sprung up as an open chat room that exchanges food pictures without a word became popular. As the popularity of the celebrity theme " solitary chat rooms, " celebrities went into the chat room themselves.
Available in 15 languages and used in over 130 countries, KakaoTalk is also evolving as a handy tool for global communication.
On July 26, 2011, Kakao Corp. established Japanese Corp., Kakao Japan and appointed Cha-Jin Park as a representative. According to company officials, KakaoTalk appears to be very actively used in Japan. When a massive earthquake hit Japan on March 11, 2011, KakaoTalk's messaging traffic in Japan surged as millions of people sought to confirm the safety of friends and family. KakaoTalk played an important role as a data network-based communication method; it successfully replaced disabled wired and wireless networks and helped connect the disaster-stricken.
KakaoTalk has targeted countries in Southeast Asia where no dominant mobile messenger service stands. KakaoTalk is forming strategic partnerships in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, as well. In 2013, KakaoTalk began airing TV commercials in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam featuring Big Bang. In the ads, local celebrities and Big Bang appear together to promote KakaoTalk. In late 2013, Indonesia became the country with the most users of KakaoTalk second to South Korea. KakaoTalk has hit 13 million users and has potential to becoming KakaoTalk's largest market worldwide. The former co-CEO of KakaoTalk, Sirgoo Lee, stated "We grew out user base by more than 25 times in one year, so hopefully, we will continue at that rate." KakaoTalk has tailored their service to the local environment by collaborating with local designers and companies to generate "Indonesian-specific content".
In February 2014, KakaoTalk launched for Nokia Asha 500, 501, 502, and 503 devices, expanding its reach to users of a wider audience.
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