Earlier today, Korean instant messaging giant Kakao launched Kakao Page, a new monetized content platform optimized for mobile devices. The service claims to be the world’s first mobile distribution platform for the production and marketing of various digital content.
Kakao Page opens the opportunity for users to openly sell and market their original content in the form of text, image, audio or video. Surprisingly, no content on the platform is free – a step back from the freemium models taking over in today’s mobile world. The company announced a goal of making one million “profit-earning” partners within three years along with the launch.
Users must register to upload content to Kakao Page and all content is reviewed before it can be sold through the service. Producing content with Kakao Page is fairly easy, and using the web-based editing tools users can create a variety of media without too much hassle.
Content can also be previewed before it is uploaded so users can make sure that it is displayed correctly on mobile devices. This can be done not only through the web interface, but directly on mobile devices by using the ‘Kakao Partner’ application offered to all content producers. Meanwhile, editing is currently limited to the web interface only.
Brian Kim, founder and current chairman of Kakao, said that the digital content is a new area and that it is not necessarily an easy one. He discussed the launch of Kakao Page at a startup conference earlier in the week.
“People upload content to places like the App Store and Google Play but the content doesn’t get any exposure. Kakao Page is a content distribution platform. Anyone can make content and Kakao Page puts it out there for everyone to see.”
While the platform has found some scepticism from users due the lack of free content, Kakao’s Game Center also brought doubt from game developers when it first opened, until a number of games such as Anipang and Dragon Flight found great success. In a country that loves trends, one popular digital publication or song may be all that is needed for the platform to take off.
More Business Models in 2013
Long gone are the days when many questioned whether Kakao could turn a profit with a free instant messaging app. Kakao Page is another notch in the company’s belt as it continues to strengthen its hold on domestic users in a time when NHN’s Line is quickly becoming the staple messaging app throughout the rest of Asia. While last year saw the launch of a gaming platform and the company’s social network service Kakao Story, Kakao continues to add new features and create business models for its 70 million users.
“Chatting Plus” was also launched recently, which enables extra features within the Kakao Talk messaging app itself. Users are able to use third party apps with each other to share activities, such as drawing and note taking.
Understandably there are currently only a few apps which can be used through the new feature, but Chatting Plus finally opens up the door for Korean developers other than game publishers, to integrate their services into the most powerful mobile network in Korea. Kakao also offers an SDK kit and an in-app transaction service for companies planning to use the service.
Another upcoming addition is Kakao Story Plus, which will open up the social network service for businesses to create brand profiles and bypass the 500 friend limit. Though there are other mobile versions of group and brand pages on the Korean market, none of them can match the number of Kakao users, with Kakao Story alone boasting some 34.6 million of them.