By Dr. Serkan Toto – On Japan's Game Industry

To Go Against LINE: Yahoo Japan Teams Up With KakaoTalk [Social Networks]


Messenger app sensation KakaoTalk is the clear winner in its home market of Korea (65 million users worldwide) but hasn’t been able to win over users in Japan where LINE is the undisputed king.

KakaoTalk has been available in Japanese for quite a while now, but now maker Kakao Corp. is ready to take things to another level in this country: by teaming up with Yahoo Japan.

The country’s biggest web company just announced it acquired a 50% stake in Tokyo-based Kakao Japan, which was previously wholly owned by the parent company in Korea.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but the two companies are joining forces to market KakaoTalk in Japan together from now on. There can be no question that this deal (and such a deal only) is providing KakaoTalk a fighting chance against LINE.

Yahoo Japan is a huge destination that racks up 2.3 billion page views per day, according to recent data from Nielsen. The company has changed its strategic direction to focus more on the mobile and social fields, which is why the Kakao Talk deal makes a lot of sense for Yahoo, too.

Another area to watch with regards to the joint venture is social gaming. As I predicted back in July, LINE is continuing to grow but  hasn’t really taken off as a platform for social networking and social gaming yet. No game company I know of has left Mobage or GREE to develop for LINE – and again, there is no compelling reason to do so.

KakaoTalk is seeing massive success with its branching out to social games in Korea and could try to do the same in Japan, too, together with Yahoo Japan. But there is one big difference: unlike LINE, KakaoTalk never had massive mobile social gaming platforms to compete with in Korea, which is why I think such a plan would see limited success over here.

About the author

Dr. Serkan Toto

I am the CEO & Founder of Tokyo-based Kantan Games Inc., an independent consultancy focused on Japan’s game industry.

Please feel free to connect via Email.

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By Dr. Serkan Toto – On Japan's Game Industry