Two of Asia’s biggest social media players, Kakao Talk and Line, are growing by making mobile messaging apps an integral part of the lives of young Asians.
Younger generations prefer to communicate more privately instead of shouting out in virtual arenas and risking troubles with trolls—or disclosing aspects of their lives to their parents they’d rather not share.
Kakao Talk is the top messenger app in South Korea, with more users than Facebook or Twitter. People use it to hail cabs and transfer money, advancing toward a cashless society. Even South Korean government officials prefer Kakao chat rooms for communicating with colleagues as opposed to email.
In Japan, where Line users outnumber those on Facebook or Twitter, people buy cute digital stickers to link to messages and use the app to search for music and jobs.
In doing so, the apps are serving as test beds for digital services, demonstrating ways the latest trends in technology and communication can be integrated with daily life in the 21st century.
Above all, they are making money, although some of their products, such as digital stickers, would be a hard sell in other markets. Silicon Valley investors and tech startups everywhere are watching closely.