Sep 19, 2013

Chat App Battle Heats Up as KakaoTalk Enters the Philippines

Chat apps are not only big in Asia in general, they’re becoming widely used in the Philippines, too. Filipinos have been using Wechat, Line, Whatsapp, and Viber for a time now. But today, an additional option is available as KakaoTalk launches officially in the Philippines.

KakaoTalk stars on TV

It’s not that Korea-made KakaoTalk was not available for download in the Philippines for Android and iOS before. It already is. But since KakaoTalk has not yet formally introduced itself to the market by means of advertisements in different media, it may be safe to say that hasn’t yet gained traction in the country.

We’ve already seen China-made WeChat making itself known in the Philippines by getting local stars for its TV ads. Line also followed suit with its own set of TV ads and free stickers in the country. Today, KakaoTalk also launches its TV ad in the nation featuring Philippine singer Sarah Geronimo, together with Korean boy band Big Bang. Incidentally, K-pop has a huge following in the Philippines, so featuring a K-pop group in its advertisement might give a boost to KakaoTalk in the Philippines.

Planning for localized features

KakaoTalk’s move today is a lot like its aggressive promotion elsewhere in the region. The Korean app has TV ads in Indonesia, and is being promoted in Malaysia through a partnership with Friendster.

Last June, KakaoTalk reached 100 million registered users. But it’s still lagging behind Line which already has more than 200 million users. According to Kakao Corp, its biggest markets to date are Korea, Japan, and Indonesia. To start gaining ground in the Philippines, Kakao Corp will first focus on making Filipinos familiar with the app via ads and marketing, and then listening to users’ feedback. After which, it plans to provide timely localized features for the messaging apps users.

Banking on a recent ComScore study which revealed that the internet audience in the Philippines is the fastest-growing in Southeast Asia, Tim Jang, director of Kakao Philippines, believes that Kakao Philippines “will be able to provide the right product at the right time to satisfy the needs of the local consumers.” He adds:
The country has been especially robust in the past years and we are confident that KakaoTalk will do well in such a promising environment.
Among Asia-made messaging app, Line is perhaps the leader in the Philippines on both Android and iOS, according to App Annie’s rankings. But KakaoTalk’s eventual growth in the Philippines is something we will watch out for.

KakaoTalk is available for download for Android and iOS.


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