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Jakarta Post

KakaoTalk seeks to boost market penetration in Indonesia

  • Mariel Grazella

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, December 16, 2013   /  11:53 am

Indonesia has surpassed Japan as the country with the most users of the South Korean-made mobile messaging application KakaoTalk, according to a company executive.

Given its large population, Indonesia has the potential to become KakaoTalk'€™s largest market.

'€œBefore we started localization and marketing here, we had about 500,000 users by the end of last year,'€ KakaoTalk co-CEO, Sirgoo Lee, said recently.

He added that now, KakaoTalk'€™s registered users in Indonesia had almost hit 13 million users, therefore becoming the number one market for us outside Korea.

 '€œIt [the number one market] used to be Japan where it now has 12 million users,'€ he told The Jakarta Post.

KakaoTalk has more than 120 million users globally, with home-country South Korea boasting the largest base of approximately 70 million registered users.

Sirgoo added that Indonesia could potentially become their largest market worldwide given that the country'€™s population of more than 240 million people were increasingly adopting smartphones.

He added that currently, about 40 percent of KakaoTalk users in Indonesia were on the BlackBerry platform, with over 50 percent utilizing Android.

'€œIn Korea, 9 out of 10 of our users are on Android and that will be the trend on a global basis, not just in Indonesia, because Android offers a lot of low-end products in the market,'€ he said.

He added that KakaoTalk sought to capture the throng of new smartphone users in Indonesia to develop it into their prime market.

'€œWe grew our user base by more than 25 times in one year, so hopefully, we will continue at that rate,'€ he said.

He added he has not seen other markets growing in user base as rapidly as Indonesia, and attributed the exponential growth to the company establishing an office in the country.

 '€œWe have been tailoring our product to the local market,'€ he said.

On the technical side, KakaoTalk has '€œfine tuned'€ the messaging application by making it lighter and therefore, more suitable for the lower telecommunication network speeds.

 '€œWe have done a lot of technical fine-tuning over the last few months and now the message transmission is more stable and faster,'€ he said.

On the business side, Sirgoo pointed out that KakaoTalk has collaborated with approximately 100 parties, such as emoticon designers, local artists and local companies, to generate '€œIndonesian-specific content'€.

'€œThe key is localization by offering more services tailored to the local audience. Compared to other [mobile messaging] services, that is our very strong point,'€ he noted, adding that KakaoTalk aimed to be the number one messaging application in the country.

Besides KakaoTalk, Indonesians also utilize BlackBerry Messenger, WhatsApp, Line and WeChat to communicate. Those messaging applications also view Indonesia as a vital market given the affinity for social networking .

One form of business collaboration, Sirgoo noted, was working with businesses on the '€œplus friend'€ marketing model. Businesses could create accounts for KakaoTalk users to '€˜friend'€™. These businesses, such as McDonald'€™s, could later send push messages containing special offers for their followers.

He further said that moving forward, KakaoTalk wanted to transform into a mobile platform for a wide range of services, including mobile commerce.

KakaoTalk users in Korea can now buy Swarovski jewelry worth up to US$1,000 via the mobile messaging application.

'€œWe have not started that in Indonesia but once we have had a large pool of users who are comfortable with the KakaoTalk service, we can start that mobile commerce,'€ he said.

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