Kakao Talk, My People Lead the Charge of the Mobile Freebies

Korean smartphone users are increasingly taking mobile messenger and m-VoIP services – such as Kakao Talk and My People – for granted, and are using their allotted calls and text messages far less as a result.

In a survey of 1,000 smartphone users conducted by research company Trend Monitor, 77 percent of respondents said such services should always be free of charge. In addition, 74.7 and 61.6 percent of users respectively said that mobile messenger and m-VoIP services already bring savings in their phone bills.

In more figures likely to make phone carriers wince, some 87.9 percent of respondents said they already use mobile messenger services on their phones, while 47 percent ‘fessed up to using m-VoIP.

Asked why they used mobile messenger, 69.7 percent said because it’s free, while 51.1 percent said it’s because many people around them use such services a lot (45.7 percent cited convenience).

For m-VoIP apps, the majority (74 percent) cited their being free of charge, and 57.4 percent said the apps helped save them money on their phone bills. The obvious conclusion, then, is that m-VoIP users are even more enticed by the possible savings and free use than are fans of mobile messenger services.

trend monitor

Of the respondents using mobile messenger services, 92 percent said they use Kakao Talk, 43.6 percent said NateOn UC, and 23.8 percent said My People. With m-VoIP apps, the majority went for My People (48.5 percent) followed by Skype (44.5 percent).

In addition, 65.6 percent of respondents said that mobile messenger services displayed virtually no difference in quality with their phones’ native SMS services, and 68.3 percent said they regarded mobile messengers as “must have” apps. However, in a sign that the technology still has a ways to go, the corresponding figures for m-VoIP were just 23.7 percent and 45.6 percent.

However, though the likes of Kakao and My People are now eating into carriers’ profits, such has been the growth of these freebies that many smartphone users are no longer even using up their monthly allowance of SMS and calls.

Just 36.6 percent of users are now using their full allowance of SMS, with 34.2 percent using less than half, and 14.9 percent using almost none at all. For calls, 47.3 percent are using up their data plans, with 13.9 percent using less than half and 3.6 percent using practically none.

Even for overall data use, only 40.3 percent are using up their monthly allowance, with 22.4 percent using less than half and 7.8 consuming almost none.

As ZDNet points out, with smartphone users expected to top 20 million by the end of this year, the only way for these trends to go is up. The big question is, just how will Korea’s once all-powerful carriers respond?

UPDATE: Over on Seoul Space, Erik Cornelius has a post about carriers raising prices for their data plans. But if these figures above are correct, you have to wonder how much of a difference it will make.

UPDATE 2: In my indecent haste to put this post up, I made the mistake of equating the increased use of Kakao Talk and My People with drops in use of data plans. This, of course, is incorrect. While the greater adoption of the likes of Kakao Talk and My People will affect the use of SMS and call allowances, it should also  increase smartphone users’ overall consumption of data.

Thanks to @donburi for pointing out the error, and thank goodness for the edit button!

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