South Korean chat app KakaoTalk gets serious about Indonesia, partners with Telkomsel telco


Having just passed its 1000th day of existence just a couple of weeks ago with the release of the support of languages like Vietnamese, South Korean mobile messaging app KakaoTalk, gets even more serious about Southeast Asia this time. KakaoTalk has officially announced its partnership with Indonesia’s biggest telco, Telkomsel, to enable carrier billing for its app.

With carrier billing enabled, Telkomsel customers with KakaoTalk can purchase digital items (stickers, emoticons, and themes) with their Pulsa pre-paid credits.

On the social media front, KaKaoTalk has also localized for the market with Indonesia-specific Facebook page and Twitter account. The app is available across the iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, and Blackberry platforms and now sees more than 70 million registered users, with 27 million daily uniques. Check out a visual history of their 1000 days, released on 11 December:

Click to see enlarged version.

KaKaoTalk is one of the many mobile messaging apps around the world battling for global dominance. In Asia, we have Japan’s LINE, Taiwan’s Cubie and China’s WeChat, with WeChat currently looking to be the front runner with more than 200 million users. LINE has more than 74 million users, 7-months old Cubie has seen more than 4 million downloads and they also recently raised a Series A round.

(Read: Three mobile messaging apps from Asia you must know about)

To add to the heat, social network giant Facebook was rumored to be considering purchasing WhatsApp, a mobile messaging app mostly used in the English-speaking world. While the rumor of a Facebook-WhatsApp acquisition seems to have died down, to compete with the likes of WhatsApp, Facebook recently disabled the need to login through one’s Facebook account to use its Facebook Messenger mobile chat app.

(Read: Why Tencent WeChat has a bigger presence than Whatsapp in China?

More interestingly, Facebook is also pursuing a simultaneous messaging trend: that of impermanent chats.

There’s a whole generation of youths who have grown up detailing their teenage dalliances on Facebook. While they may have thought them cool when they were 15, their future 24-year-old selves might disagree, and so would their potential employers. Therein lies the rise of a new kind of chat app that allows them to send friends drunken pictures that will disappear forever (presumably) and could be said to have never existed.

America’s SnapChat and the new Facebook Poke caters to these bunch of people.

Snapchat allows users to send friends pictures that will self-destruct after a maxiumum of ten seconds (and users will be notified if friends take a screenshot!). The 1.5-year-old company sees more than 20 million pictures shared everyday (said to be 50 million now). Facebook Poke currently has more features and content options.

It will be interesting to see how the mobile communication space continues to evolve. From SMS, apps, social networks, de-socialed networks and to messages that never were, companies like KakaoTalk and the like still have much to battle it out.

(And yes, we're serious about ethics and transparency. More information here.)

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