Tweet-haseyo! Twitter now offered in Hangul

트위터 한국어 서비스 시작  PLAY AUDIO

Jan 20,2011
Evan Williams
Koreans will now be able to use Twitter, the popular social networking service, in Hangul.

“Twitter loves Korea,” said Twitter co-founder Evan Williams at a press conference yesterday in Seoul. “It’s only the beginning.” Korean is now the seventh language Twitter supports after English, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish.

Even before the rollout of a Korean version, Twitter had gained traction in the local market. According to a recent industry report, Twitter users in Korea reached 2.28 million as of December, more than eight times the 250,000 users in January 2010. Although there was no Korean-language interface, postings (also known as tweets) could be made in Hangul.

Twitter has been embraced by high-profile CEOs like Chung Yong-jin, the vice chairman of Shinsegae Group; Chung Tae-young, the president of Hyundai Card and Hyundai Capital; and Lee Chan-jin, CEO of the Web portal Dreamwiz.

Twitter has also been used as a publicity tool by large conglomerates like KT, with some sending out corporate news through a message on Twitter before press releases.

It was Twitter users who sent out real-time reports on a major apartment fire in Busan last October, ahead of cable networks.

According to Twitter officials, Korea is one of the countries, along with Japan and Indonesia, where Twitter users have grown the fastest in recent months. Twitter has some 200 million users worldwide.

“The Korean-language tweets have grown even faster than tweets in general. We’ve seen over 3,400 percent growth of Korean language tweets from January 2010 through December,” Williams said.

Now, the Twitter user interface is in Korean, both on the Web and as mobile applications for iPhones and Android-based smartphones.

Williams also announced yesterday that subscribers to LG U+, Korea’s smallest mobile carrier, will be able to post messages on Twitter through text messages.

“People in some 50 countries can use Twitter through text messages and subscribers of LG U+ in Korea will join them,” he said.

On Tuesday, Williams signed a partnership with Daum, Korea’s second-largest Web portal, through which Daum will allow users to create Twitter accounts on its Web site.

It will also feature popular Twitter postings on its home page.

Williams is also reported to have met with companies like NHN and SK Communications, the country’s No. 1 and No. 3 Web portals, as well as KT, the country’s largest fixed-line operator and second-largest mobile service operator.

According to industry sources, the talks were on the possibility of sharing content and databases.

“Twitter has requested a business partnership ahead of the visit through e-mail,” an NHN official told Yonhap News Agency. “While the deal didn’t come through yet, we will keep the door open for further discussion.”

Given “the advancement of technology, Internet and mobile usage, Korea is an important market to Twitter, and Twitter hopes to learn from Korea,” Williams said.

Asked about the possibility of opening a Korean branch, he said Twitter does not yet have any plans.

Facebook, another popular social networking site, is known to have completed steps to open a Korean branch.

Market analysts have speculated that Facebook will open a Korean branch since July when Javier Olivan, head of international growth at Facebook, said that the “Korean market is growing fast and we are keeping our eye on it.”

The six-year-old company has more than 500 million users around the world.

According to Socialbakers, which compiles data on social networking services, some 2.3 million Koreans have opened Facebook accounts.

But success is not guaranteed. MySpace, for instance, opened a Korean branch, vowing to strengthen its Korean service, in May 2008, only to close it ten months later, failing to appeal to Koreans.

Observers say while foreign SNS like Twitter and Facebook may have succeeded in appealing to millions of Koreans already, it remains to be seen if they will be as popular as Cyworld, a Korean SNS that has 25 million users.

Nick Ingelbrecht, a research director at Gartner, said, “The Asia-Pacific social media market is highly diverse and in many places evolving rapidly ... While global sites fare better in more Westernized Asian markets such as Australia, some of Asia’s biggest markets have evolved their own unique social network services distinct from those of Europe and North America.

By Kim Hyung-eun [hkim@joongang.co.kr]

Related Korean Article [중앙일보]

트위터 한국어 서비스 시작
에번 윌리엄스 방한
“난 괴짜 맞다 내가 생각한 걸 한다”

트위터가 19일 한국어 서비스를 시작했다. 영어·일본어·프랑스어 등에 이어 일곱 번째다. 에번 윌리엄스(37·사진) 트위터 공동창업자는 19일 서울 장충동 반얀트리클럽에서 기자간담회를 열고 “한국인들의 사랑에 감사드린다. 한국에서 많은 것을 배우고 싶다”며 서비스 시작을 알렸다.

국내 통신·포털업체와의 제휴 계획도 밝혔다. LG유플러스와 제휴해 휴대전화 문자메시지(SMS)로 트위터에 글을 올릴 수 있는 서비스를 선보인다. 다음커뮤니케이션과는 아이디와 패스워드를 공유하기로 했다. 윌리엄스는 “이제 시작”이라며 “한국의 트위터 이용자들이 좀 더 편리하게 이용할 수 있도록 개선해 나가겠다”고 말했다.

그는 한국이 중요하고 특별한 시장이라고 평가했다. 한국어 트윗(트위터 메시지)의 수는 지난해 3400%가 늘었다. 그는 “한국은 인터넷뿐 아니라 소셜네트워크서비스(SNS)에서도 리더이며 선구적 역할을 했다. 기술 수준이 높고 인터넷과 모바일에서 대단한 변화가 일어나고 있다”고 덧붙였다. …


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