The company said yesterday that the number of people that used Nate On during the third week of May totaled 7.54 million; MSN Messenger had 6.5 million.
The announcement came two months after Nate On’s users first outnumbered MSN Messenger users. At the time, SK Communications hailed the development, saying it was a significant event for a local firm to beat MSN Messenger, which, it said, has an “unfair advantage of being automatically included in the Windows operating system monopoly.”
Analysts said that Nate On was able to attract so many users because of its link with Cyworld, a hugely popular community site of 18 million members. Users of Cyworld create mini-homepages called “hompys” and can create special links to other users through Nate On.
Nate On also added features that especially appealed to Koreans. For instance, for those who wanted to chat during work hours, Nate On made a “transparent chatting window” that blends in with one’s desktop background. Other features included four-way video chatting.
“We plan to make Nate On an integrated communication tool that can reflect the emotions of the users,” said Yoo Hyun-oh, president of SK Communications.
Microsoft, however, isn’t about to surrender.
“MSN Messenger has 150 million users around the world, and when we start rolling out new services, it will only be a matter of time before we become No. 1 again,” said a Microsoft Korea official.
He also accused SK Communications of exploiting its relationship with affiliate SK Telecom, the largest mobile service provider in Korea.
“Nate On is trying to lure users with free gifts, and with SK Telecom, users can send free text messages,” he said.
by Chang Chung-hoon, Wohn Dong-hee