By Cho Mu-hyun
A foray by Samsung Electronics into the mobile messenger market seems unsuccessful despite attempts by the firm to promote its self-developed ChatOn.
The electronics giant has been trying to use its superiority in smartphones to boost recognition of its messenger by providing it preinstalled in its handsets. Despite stellar sales of 15 million for the Galaxy S3 smartphone, as of the second quarter, the number of users of ChatOn has not shot up in concordance, said industry experts.
According to Google’s Android apps ranking posted on its Play Store website Monday, the most downloaded free app is Kakao Talk, the messenger service in Korea with the greatest number of subscribers. Runner-up Line by NHN ranked 16th on the list. Samsung’s messenger service was ranked 64th.
A Samsung spokeswoman declined to comment on the number of subscribers of ChatOn. “Downloads and use of our messenger is increasing in different countries across the globe. We expect that the number of subscribers will continue to rise as we have launched our Galaxy S3 which has the software preinstalled.”
The messenger service was launched globally in October and available in over 120 countries in 68 different languages. Domestic service started in May.
“The messenger lacks distinctive features compared to its competition,” said an industry official working for a content providing firm by phone. “Kakao Talk, for example, has various connected services like its Kakao Story (social networking service) among others.”
The official said that there was a “brief scare” in the market when it was first revealed that Samsung was planning to launch its own social service last year. But a year on, the buzz has settled down.
“Kakao Talk and NHN have revealed the number of subscribers for their messenger services numerous times. The fact that Samsung refuses to release figures is proof of its difficulties.”
As of July, Kakao Talk had over 53 million users and Line, 50 million.
Third-seed My People, provided by Daum, has 22 million. All three firms are pushing the service for its huge potential as a new revenue pipeline: game platforms, advertisement platforms, social commerce and other services have already started or are planned.
“All different kinds of information technology businesses are venturing into the mobile messenger market because it is easy to start, and the competition is fierce,” said a Seoul-based analyst over the phone who requested anonymity. “Samsung is yet to find the momentum that can break the well established dominance of Kakao Talk and Line.”
“I think the atmosphere in the market has generally shown little interest in Samsung’s latest service.”
Korean equipment makers such as Samsung and LG Electronics are venturing into software to diversify their business portfolios, especially into mobile services as this is the most popular platform in the market.