SK Telecom announces plan to take on KakaoTalk

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SK Telecom announces plan to take on KakaoTalk

SK Telecom introduced a new messaging service on Tuesday in an attempt to compete with Korea’s dominant chat app, KakaoTalk.

The new service will look a lot like Apple’s iMessage. Users won’t have to download a separate app. It is offered to SK Telecom subscribers only.

Messages will be sent on data networks. Group chat and check whether your message has been read will also be offered.

Later in the year, SK Telecom promises more features so that users can share mobile gift coupons and transfer money. These are all services already offered by KakaoTalk.

SK Telecom is trying to make its service competitive by offering freebies. Transfers of picture or video files of less than five megabytes will be free from data charges. It is also running promotions through June that will allow sharing of files up to 100 megabytes for free.

The carrier is also preparing to launch a dedicated message service targeting business customers within the first half of this year.

That service is based on Rich Communication Services (RCS), a communication protocol developed by the Global System for Mobile Communication Association better known as GSMA, to replace SMS messages.

The telecom said it is planning on making the message service compatible for customers of different carriers in Korea.

In December, KT introduced a message service dubbed Chatting based on the same RCS specifications. Basic features are identical for the two services, but they differ in some features depending on what telecom a person uses.

Last year, KT promoted a chatting bot service on the new message service. Simple inquiries about the company’s products and services could be handled by the chat bot. In the future, it is planning to linking shopping services to the chat bot.

Luring customers away from KakaoTalk will not be easy. Chat app users are resistant to change because all their friends use the same app.

In the initial stage, SK Telecom’s chat service will only be offered to owners of Samsung Electronics’ flagship smartphones Galaxy Note9, S9, S9+. By February, Galaxy Note8, S8, S8+ users will also get in through an update.

The upcoming Galaxy S10 smartphone will come with the RCS-based message app pre-installed.


BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]

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