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Kakao to go global with Kakao Universe metaverse platform

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Kakao CEO Namkoong Whon introduces the company's metaverse service, Kakao Universe, during an online press conference, Tuesday. Courtesy of Kakao
Kakao CEO Namkoong Whon introduces the company's metaverse service, Kakao Universe, during an online press conference, Tuesday. Courtesy of Kakao

By Baek Byung-yeul

Kakao unveiled its metaverse service, Kakao Universe, which aims to connect global users who share the same interests, the head of the internet company said, Tuesday.

Through its mobile messenger service, KakaoTalk, the company has concentrated on providing what it calls acquaintance-based communication services, but Kakao is now trying to expand its target customers by creating a space where people with the same interests can gather.

At a time when the metaverse ― a virtual space in which users can interact with each other and the virtual environment ― has been emerging as a new business, Kakao CEO Namkoong Whon said the company's metaverse vision is to connect people across the world who share the same interests. As part of the plan, he said the company will launch a service called OpenLink.

"We realized that there was a limit to global expansion with acquaintance-based services of about 50 million domestic users, who account for only 1 percent of the world. We are targeting 99 percent of users globally, so KakaoTalk, which has been based on acquaintances so far, will in the future connect people with the same interests. We decided to call the world of people connected through similar interests 'Kakao Universe,'" Namkoong said during an online press conference.

He elaborated that OpenLink is a service that allows users with the same interests, such as hobbies, places and characters, to gather to communicate. The OpenLink service will be provided based on KakaoTalk and it is scheduled to be released in the first half of 2023.

"If users join an OpenLink for people who like the webcomics, 'What's Wrong with Secretary Kim,' serviced by our webtoon platform, Piccoma, users from Korea, Japan and Indonesia will be able to talk each other in one chat room," he said.

To make it more fun for users to communicate with each other, the company will provide various multimedia forms including text, images and videos, as well as virtual reality.

Giving a hint about how its OpenLink service works, Namkoong said users will be able to decorate their profiles in various ways.

"Each user's profile in KakaoTalk will be a space where people can find various pleasures. Users can express their emotions in the profile space in a variety of ways. They will be able to express events related to them, feelings they want to be acknowledged. Visitors to the profile spaces can interact with the users through celebration, writing notes on a guest book and giving gifts," he said.

As people start to use Kakao Universe, the company also aims to establish a "business-to-consumer-to-consumer (B2C2C)" business model, a term combining business-to-consumer with consumer- to-consumer.

Under the business model, users will not only be able to produce and share content, but also generate profit with the produced content. For instance, the head of a chat room on the OpenLink service will be able to generate profit by providing a subscription-based service.


Baek Byung-yeul baekby@koreatimes.co.kr


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