Winners and losers
Do you ka-talk?
Korean mobile instant messaging application Kakao Talk is seeing more than 1 billion text messages every day, according to Kakao, the company behind the country's No. 1 smartphone app and messenger KakaoTalk.
This means that 11,574 messages are sent every second, and 694,440 texts every minute. This record compares with Google getting 690,000 search hits every minute and Facebook gaining 695,000 status updates every minute.
The service provider launched last March. Currently, it has 32 million users worldwide.
The free application is available for the iPhone and Android with a beta version for the BlackBerry. Kakao Talk users can exchange texts, photos, videos and voice messages.
The company said it seeks to expand its global presence as latching onto the smartphone boom worldwide. The service is currently available in English, Japanese and Spanish.
In a move to merge with other businesses, the firm newly offered a service called, Plus Friend, in which users can add their favorite K-Pop stars and bands to their friend lists, and get information and benefits. It already partnered with 37 companies including SM Town, Gmarket and Lotte Duty Free.
Similar to a phrase, “google it,” coined from the top search giant Google, Kakao Talk’s co-representative Lee Seok-woo said he sees “ka-talk” becoming a new urban term in Korea.
Sonata dethroned as best-selling car
Hyundai’s Sonata, a midsize sedan produced by the nation’s auto giant, lost its crown as the best-selling car in the local market for the first time in 12 years.
According to data compiled by domestic automakers, Hyundai’s Avante emerged as the most-selling car last year with sales of 130,987 units. Sonata ranked fourth with sales of 104,080 units, also outpaced by Kia Morning (117,029) and Hyundai Grandeur (107,584).
Introduced in 1985, Sonata has been the longest model that has been sold to Korean consumers. The upgraded version EF Sonata, unveiled in March 1998, broke a record by maintaining the best-selling car status for 19 straight months across all models, which has yet to be broken.
The Sonata's setback is largely due to the rising popularity of K5, manufactured by its affiliate Kia. The two models have the almost same features, including platform and power train, except for design.
Unveiled in April 2010, K5 has secured market share on a continuing basis in the mid-size car market that had been dominated by Sonata. Last year, a total of 87,452 units of the the K5 model, were sold.
Another culprit behind the Sonata’s retreat was that the barrier between product segments has been blurred. The long-time favorite among Koreans was losing ground as Avante, its lower-end model, has been equipped with advanced features, while Hyundai boosted the sale of Grandeur, its higher-end model.