Kakao’s comic app Piccoma makes big inroads in Japan

2020.04.20 13:55:57 | 2020.04.20 14:14:37

[Photo provided by Kakao Corp.]이미지 확대

[Photo provided by Kakao Corp.]

South Korea’s top messenger operator Kakao Corp. has made meaningful inroads into the manga-obsessed nation of Japan with its comic app platform Piccoma.

Kakao’s Japanese subsidiary Kakao Japan on Sunday said that Piccoma reported its first operating profit in the final quarter of 2019, with transactions doubling in size annually over the past three years.

Launched in April 2016, Piccoma saw its annual transactions jump nearly 14-fold by 2017. Transactions continued to grow at a rapid clip, rising 156 percent in 2018 and 130 percent in 2019.

Its bottom line has also improved. Piccoma saw its first profit in the fourth quarter ended December 2019 and is expected to remain in the black for full 2020. Its mobile app is poised to hit 20 million downloads.

Kakao Japan credited Korea’s burgeoning webtoon business for Piccoma’s success. Piccoma displays not only comic books in digital format but also webtoons created specifically for the mobile platform. Piccoma’s webtoons succeeded in drawing both Japanese comic fans that have mostly consumed comic books in print or digital form as well as a new Japanese audience that doesn’t regularly read comics.

[Photo provided by Kakao Corp.]이미지 확대

[Photo provided by Kakao Corp.]

Webtoons account for just 1.3 percent of the more than 20,000 comics on the Piccoma platform. But earlier this month, daily transactions of these 277 webtoons reached 360 million won ($295,420), a record high for the company.

Kakao Japan said webtoons made by Korean authors are driving the recent growth. D&C Media’s webtoon “Solo Leveling” hit 1 million readers in Japan and was named Piccoma’s No. 1 webtoon of 2019. In March, its monthly transactions topped 1 billion won, creating a huge fan base in both Korea and Japan.

Piccoma is readying a K-webtoon marketing campaign in time for Japan’s Golden Week later this month, a five-day holiday that can be stretched up to 10 days.

“Piccoma has led the digitalization and growth of the Japanese manga market by introducing Korean webtoons,” said Kim Jae-yong, chief executive of Kakao Japan. “We see more growth ahead as K-webtoons are enjoying as much popularity as their Japanese counterparts.”

By Oh Dae-seok and Kim Hyo-jin

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