Korean instant messaging app-maker Kakao launched Kakao Page, a new monetized content platform optimized for mobile devices. The service, initially in Korean-only, boldly claims to be the world’s first mobile distribution platform for the production and marketing of digital content.

Kakao Page opens the opportunity for users to openly sell and market their original content in the form of text, image, audio or video. Surprisingly, no content on the platform is free — a step back from the freemium models taking over in today’s mobile world.  The company announced a goal of making one million “profit-earning” partners within three years along with the launch.

3 Korean chat app maker Kakao launches Pages, a mobile marketplace for content creators

Users register to upload content to Kakao Page and all submissions are reviewed before they go on sale across the service. Producing content with Kakao Page is fairly easy, and using the Web-based editing tools users can create a variety of media without too much difficulty.

Content can be previewed before it is uploaded so that users can ensure that it will display correctly on mobile devices. This can be done not only through the Web interface, but directly on mobile devices by using the ‘Kakao Partner’ application that is offered to all content producers. However, editing is currently limited to the Web only.

Brian Kim, founder and chairman of Kakao, told local media that online content is a new area and that it is not necessarily an easy one. He discussed the launch of Kakao Page at a recent startup.

People upload content to places like the App Store and Google Play, but the content doesn’t get any exposure. Kakao Page is a content distribution platform. Anyone can make content and Kakao Page puts it out there for everyone to see.

While the platform has run into some skepticism from users due to the lack of free content, past signs suggest this may be temporary. Kakao’s Game Center raised similar doubts from game developers when it first opened, but that changed when a number of games — including Anipang and Dragon Flight — found success and made revenue via the service.

In a country that likes trends, one popular digital publication or song may be all that is needed for the platform to take off.

More Business Models in 2013

Long gone are the days when many questioned whether Kakao could turn a profit with a free instant messaging app. Kakao Page is another notch in the company’s belt as it continues to strengthen its hold on domestic users in a market where NHN’s Line is quickly becoming a mainstream messaging service across the rest of Asia.  While last year saw the launch of a gaming platform and the company’s own social network service, Kakao Story, the company continues to add new features and create business models for its cumulative 70 million users.

Kakao also recently launched ‘Chatting Plus’, which enables extra features within the Kakao Talk messaging app itself. Users are able to use third party apps with each other to share activities, such as drawing and note taking, in a similar way to Line.

Understandably there are currently only a few apps which can be used through the new feature, but Chatting Plus finally opens the door for Korean developers (other than game publishers) to integrate their services into the most powerful mobile network in Korea. Kakao also offers an SDK kit and an in-app transaction service for companies planning to use this service.

Another upcoming addition is Kakao Story Plus, which will open up the social network service for businesses to create brand profiles and bypass the current limit of just 500 friends. Though there are other mobile versions of group and brand pages on the Korean market,  none of them can match the number of Kakao users, with Kakao Story alone boasting some 34.6 million of them.

If 2012 was the year for mobile chat, mobile content could pick up the baton this year. In addition to Kakao, Japanese games giant GREE is among the others building social reader and content apps for Asia, piggybacking on other services.

We’ll keep our eyes out for the English version of Kakao Pages.

Headline image via Thinkstock

qwakP Korean chat app maker Kakao launches Pages, a mobile marketplace for content creators