KakaoTalk sports a new search option

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KakaoTalk sports a new search option

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Daum Kakao added search features to its popular instant messenger KakaoTalk on Tuesday in a move that could reap benefits from the merger of the search engine and mobile instant messenger.

Some have complained the union of web portal Daum and KakaoTalk has failed to live up to expectations of investors who hoped to see the tech companies integrating their strengths.

The new service could help squelch such criticism, combining KakaoTalk’s large pool of users with a vast database and search technology from Daum to compete with the country’s top search engine, Naver.

About 97 percent of smartphone users in Korea use KakaoTalk.

“Many wondered when we would see business synergies between Daum and KakaoTalk in a tangible form,” said Lee Sang-ho of the search service division at Daum Kakao. “And I believe the search service will demonstrate those synergies.”

He said users will find the feature convenient when unfamiliar topics are brought up in chat rooms.

“When people talk in a group chat room, sometimes they start talking about movies you don’t know,” said Lee. “Then you can touch the sharp (#) button and search movies.”

He stressed that the search service is not merely a mobile version of results offered by search engines.

Daum Kakao said the company puts what it sees as relevant results up front based on research that tracks mobile users’ search queries and preferences.

Also launched Tuesday was a content service called KakaoTalk Channel. The service looks a lot like a portal site, as it displays information ranging from news and recipes to webtoons and lifestyle tips.

Kakao users can access the content service by tapping a button next to the chat menu. The service is available only in Korea.

The features are the latest in a string of new offerings by Daum Kakao.

The company rolled out video chatting on the communication platform Video Call earlier this month.

Video calls can be made when users open up a friend’s profile page and press the “Video Call” button.

Daum Kakao also introduced KakaoTV, a video streaming and sharing service, for its latest version of KakaoTalk.

On top of these releases, the company has rolled out KakaoPay, KakaoTaxi and shopping platform KakaoStyle.

The latest push to provide search functionality is aimed at challenging Naver, the search engine that has a 70 percent web and mobile market share.


BY PARK EUN-JEE [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]

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