Amid the fierce content war between Naver and Kakao in Korea and around the world beyond, the industry is having an eye on the next battlefield.
Recently, Kakao announced its entry into Southeast Asian markets in Thailand and Taiwan, where Naver has entered first and already formed an ecosystem. As disclosing positive performance data at the beginning of the launch, the company also expressed its ambition to continue the confidence that comes from beating Naver in Japan.
In response to this, Naver went on a mental war with Kakao by releasing data it had accumulated through market domination for a long time.
As Kakao announced plans to expand its service range to other languages like French and Spanish in the second half of the year, the competition in countries speaking these languages is expected to increase. Particularly, as Naver has the lead in this market, Kakao is expected to pursue Naver’s path aggressively.
According to the content industry on June 16, it was confirmed that Kakao Webtoon had recently entered Thailand and Taiwan and starting with the IPX (IP Experience) strategy, it is garnering positive results in the market.
Kakao Webtoon took the first place in the comics category on Google Play Store in Thailand and took the second place in the Apple App Store entertainment category. In Taiwan, it ranked first in the comics sector and sixth in the entertainment sector after Netflix.
With Kakao’s entry into Southeast Asia, a fierce competition is expected with Naver Webtoon, which has established itself as the No. 1 platform by preemptively entering this market.
From the beginning, the two had already entered the fight for power. Looking at the data disclosed by Kakao Webtoon, Naver refuted by presenting counter-argument.
Kakao plans to continue its successful know-how in Japan, which is the world’s largest webtoon market. Line Manga, which has been leading the market since entering the Japanese market, lost its face last year by losing to the latecomer Kakao Piccoma.
To not make the same mistake again, Naver is expected to use various IPs to not lose its customers.
As the two companies are trying to expand their influence to Southeast Asia and other countries around the world, they are expected to compete in various places.
The next battlefield after Southeast Asia is the countries where French and Spanish are spoken. Kakao expressed its will to actively target the global market by providing services in English, French, Spanish, and German through the Kakao Webtoon global platform in the second half of this year.
Naver is already prominent in this market. Naver started the globalization of webtoons by launching Spanish and French services respectively in November and December of 2019.
As of the third quarter of last year, which is one year after its release in Europe and South America where there were no webtoon, the monthly net users (MAU) exceeded 5.5 million, quickly taking over the market. Starting in April of this year, it began service in German, focusing on strengthening its power in Europe.
Meanwhile, Kakao Entertainment acquired the North American webtoon platform Tapas Media and web novel platform Radish Media.
Based on Tapas and Radish, which have established their presence in the United States, Kakao Entertainment plans to advance into the North American market in full force and strengthen its global influence.
It had worked hard to acquire Tapas. Tapas is the first webtoon platform in North America established in San Francisco in 2012. It is experiencing explosive growth with its sales grown five times from the previous year in 2020.
Kakao Entertainment entered the North American market early and maintained a cooperative relationship with Tapas, which was serving webtoons, before incorporating it into an overseas affiliate in November of last year. Starting from the second half of last year, Kakao Entertainment started supplying its major IPs “Office Dating,” “Space Sweepers,” “The Uncanny Counter,” and “Navillera” to the North American market through Tapas.
Currently, about 80 IPs of Kakao Entertainment that supplies Tapas take up about half of Tapas’ sales, which distribute about 90,000 contents. Tapas is serving as a logistics base for K-webtoons in the North American market, and working hard to develop IPs with local authors by actively operating a writer community program called Tapastry.
Radish is a mobile-specific English novel content platform established in New York, USA in 2016. Since 2019, it has been making hits with the original content “Radish Original” with the group creation system. This resulted in a ten-fold growth in annual revenue in 2020.
Compared to other platforms that mainly offer free contents, Radish has an unrivaled competitive advantage, having 90% of the entire revenue coming from the original IP. By acquiring Radish this time, Kakao Entertainment will work on advancing Korean web novels into the British and American markets in addition to K-Webtoons.
The super IPs of Kakao Entertainment, which rank first in the web novel category in Korea both in name and reality, have been recreated as secondary creations such as webtoons, dramas, and movies, and many of them have become box office hits, so expectations for K-web novels to be introduced through Radish are high.
Based on the IP value chain built in this way, it is also expanding the global platform network. After Japan, Kakao Entertainment had accelerated its growth in North America with Tapas and Radish, and also introduced its own platform in Taiwan and Thailand. In the second half of this year, Kakao’s global influence is expected to expand further as it is set to enter the Chinese and Indian market, the countries with the world’s largest populations.
Pangyo Technovalley is an innovation hub for global companies comparable to the Silicon Valley in the US, Zhongguancun in China, and STATION F in France. It is an Asia tech hub with 1,259 IT, BT, CT, and NT companies that possess innovative products and technologies. Located just south of the metropolitan area, it provides the best environment for Korean companies to do business with great transportation access and infrastructure.
Various high-tech companies are located in Pangyo Technovalley, and it is occupied by 64,000 full-time employees, many in their 20-30s. In terms of industry, the companies are engaged in information technology, contents technology, biotechnology, and nanotechnology.
With the support of innovative companies with global capabilities such as Kakao, Naver, AhnLab, Krafton, NCSoft, Nexon, and Hancom, companies in Pangyo Technovalley recorded 107 trillion won in sales last year. Investment and infrastructure growth in Pangyo is expected to continue, with the Metaverse hub entering Pangyo this year.