South Korea’s KakaoTalk is considering launching a news content service, to further flesh out its mobile messaging app feature set which already includes group voice chats, event scheduling & polling, stickers and animated emoji, and the ability for users to shop for gifts or discounts.
The news content launch plan was reported early in the Korea Herald, and Kakao confirmed to TechCrunch it is developing a new content service — but a spokeswoman described the planning as “at a very nascent stage” and added that the service “may or may not include news”.
“There is nothing we can announce or confirm at the moment,” she added.
She said KakaoTalk, which is strongest in its home market, now has 130 million registered users. It doesn’t break out active monthly user figures.
Regardless of the shape of the content service Kakao ends up launching (or doesn’t), the fact it’s even contemplating playing in the media space is more evidence of mobile messaging apps becoming platforms in their own right — thanks to their ability to tap into large pools of highly engaged users. For the biggest mobile messaging apps, these pools contain hundreds of millions of monthly active users.
Veteran mobile messaging app WhatsApp, for instance, which has kept its feature set relatively pared back compared to some newer rivals in the space, has nonetheless managed to amass a monthly active user-base of more than
350M 400M monthly active users. Meanwhile China’s Weixin/WeChat had more than 270M MAUs at last count; while Japan’s Line reports 300M registered users.
The latter two platforms have expanded into multiple additional services to augment their core comms offering — such as games, (in-app games-related purchases are Line’s largest revenue stream), and in the case of Weixin, mobile payment services.
KakoTalk also has a social gaming platform — unsurprising, given the love of gaming in its home market of South Korea. If it jumps into the media space that will be further expansion of the messaging app category. And a further blurring of the lines, as mobile messaging apps continue their onward march from being pure comms channels, to social networks, to rich entertainment, information & utility platforms.