KakaoTalk screenshot showing the "Live Talk" feature in a group chat
|Initial release||March 18, 2010; 10 years ago (2010-03-18)|
|Operating system||iOS, macOS, Android, Bada, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Windows NT, Nokia Asha|
|Available in||15 languages|
|Type||Instant messaging client|
KakaoTalk (Hangul: 카카오톡), commonly referred to as KaTalk in South Korea, is a free mobile instant messagingapplication for smartphones with free text and free call features, operated by Kakao Corporation. It was launched on March 18, 2010 and is currently available on iOS, Android, Bada OS, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Nokia Asha, Windows and macOS.
As of May 2017, KakaoTalk had 220 million registered and 49 million monthly active users. It is available in 15 languages. The app is also used by 93% of smartphone owners in South Korea, where it is the number one messaging app.
In addition to free calls and messages, users can share photos, videos, voice messages, location, URL links as well as contact information. Both one-on-one and group chats are available over WiFi, 3G or LTE, and there are no limits to the number of people on a group chat.
Airlines such as Southwest which allow free WhatsApp in flight also have functionality for KaTalk, even though their literature omits to mention same.
The app automatically synchronizes the user’s contact list on their smartphones with the contact list on the app to find friends who are on the service. Users can also search for friends by KakaoTalk ID without having to know their phone numbers. The KakaoTalk service also allows its users to export their messages and save them.
KakaoTalk began as a messenger service but has become a platform for the distribution of various third-party content and apps, including hundreds of games, which users can download and play with their friends through the messaging platform. Through the "Plus Friend" feature, users can follow brands, media and celebrities to receive exclusive messages, coupons and other real-time information through KakaoTalk chatrooms. Users can also purchase real-life goods through the messenger's "Gifting" platform.
Besides those listed above, the app has these additional features:
- VoiceTalk, free calls and conference calls (with support for up to five people)
- Photo, video, location, and contact information sharing
- Polling and scheduling feature for members in the chatroom
- K-pop & Local Star Friends (Plus Friends)
- Customizable themes (for iOS and Android)
- Game platform
- Stickers and animated emoticons
- Plus Mate: You can add your favorite brand, star, or media as your friend to receive a variety of content and benefits.
- First mobile messenger to acquire ISO 27001 certification
- KakaoPay (for South Korean users), a mobile payment and digital wallet service.
- Open Chat
- In 2012, the app released a new emoticon service called Kakao Friends.
- In September 2015, the firm entered the corporate messaging market with the launch of Kakao AllimTalk service, which enables companies to send out data-heavy messages without having to add recipients as friends on KakaoTalk.
- Item Store, a place where you can purchase themes, emoticons, and stickons using Kakao's currency, "choco."
- Kakao mail
- Kakao music: It is a music social service provided by Kakao. It is separated into separate applications. Users can express their status through music on their profiles.
- Kakao TV: Some of the important scenes from real-time TV viewing or programs that have already been broadcast are shown briefly. It is separated into separate applications.
- Search: As Kakao acquires Daum, KakaoTalk users can search directly in chat rooms using Daum's search engine. Previously, they had to leave KakaoTalk while chatting and go back to the Internet to search, but now can search in the chat room and share search results immediately.
Company business model
KakaoTalk, a free mobile messenger application for smartphones, revealed its first profits of $42 million in 2012 and $200 million in revenue for 2013. With 93% of South Korea's population using KakaoTalk on their smartphones, Kakao Corp. has provided users a large range of services including games and retail commerce.
Following criticism of the South Korean government's response to the Sewol Ferry Disaster, Korean authorities announced a "zero-tolerance policy" which involved investigation and detention of individuals deemed to be spreading libel through Internet media. Some KakaoTalk users have received notices that their messaging accounts were searched by South Korean authorities.
A solitary chat room is a kind of open chat room, where many anonymous people gather to talk about specific topics, communicating only with images, without using text or emoticons. In other words, it is making a story out of images only. Similar chat rooms have sprung up as an open chat room that exchanges food pictures without a word became popular. As the popularity of the celebrity themed "solitary chat rooms" grew, celebrities went into the chat room themselves.
KakaoTalk is available in 15 languages and used in over 130 countries.
On July 26, 2011, Kakao Corp. established Japanese Corp., Kakao Japan and appointed Cha-Jin Park as a representative. According to company officials, the app appears to be very actively used in Japan. When a massive earthquake hit Japan on March 11, 2011, KakaoTalk's messaging traffic in Japan surged as millions of people sought to confirm the safety of friends and family. KakaoTalk played an important role as a data network-based communication method; it successfully replaced disabled wired and wireless networks and helped connect the disaster-stricken.
KakaoTalk has targeted countries in Southeast Asia where no dominant mobile messenger service stands. KakaoTalk is forming strategic partnerships in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, as well. In 2013, KakaoTalk began airing TV commercials in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam featuring Big Bang. In the ads, local celebrities and Big Bang appear together to promote KakaoTalk. In late 2013, Indonesia became the country with the second-most users of KakaoTalk, after South Korea, with 13 million users and the potential to become KakaoTalk's largest market worldwide. The former co-CEO of KakaoTalk, Sirgoo Lee, stated "We grew out user base by more than 25 times in one year, so hopefully, we will continue at that rate." KakaoTalk has tailored their service to the local environment by collaborating with local designers and companies to generate "Indonesian-specific content".
In February 2014, KakaoTalk launched for Nokia Asha 500, 501, 502, and 503 devices, expanding its reach to users of a wider audience.
Kakao does not store any of the user's chats over an extended period of time, so users often have the problem of losing the chat history when switching to a new device. While Kakao claims to provide a cloud backup feature to address this issue, this service has limitations as it does not back up open chats or longer messages, and backup file size is limited to 20.0 MB.
While users used to be able to perform ADB backup of the .db file to back up the application's data, this feature has blocked by Kakao as of app version 4.2.3. While it was still possible to downgrade the application to an earlier version to perform the ADB back up, even this feature has been blocked as of Android 7.0 Nougat.
This means that as of currently, there is no method for Android users to completely back up and transfer the application's data without rooting the device.