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Korean IT Companies Compete in Japanese Webtoon Market
Korean Mobile Manga Services in Japan
Korean IT Companies Compete in Japanese Webtoon Market
  • By Kim Eun-jin
  • November 6, 2018, 10:41
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The number of monthly active users (MAU) of NHN Entertainment Japan's “Comico” manga services amounts to around 2 million.

Korean information technology (IT) companies that operate their own mobile platforms have been competing against each other in the Japanese webtoon market. Although Japan is called a "cartoon kingdom," its transition from books and magazines to digital was relatively slow, and Korean IT companies found an opportunity to compete there, possibly leading the market valued at US$408 million (460 billion won).

Naver's Japanese subsidiary, LINE Corp., is the first Korean IT company to enter the Japanese webtoon market. LINE launched its application (app) called " LINE Manga (cartoons)” in April 2013, which was downloaded over 20 million times. The number of monthly active users (MAU) has not been disclosed yet, but it has been ranked No. 1 in cartoons and book sales in the Japanese Google and Apple’s app markets since 2015. LINE has invested 87.8 billion won in July after separating the LINE Manga business division as a subsidiary called “LINE Digital Frontier.” Since then, LINE Manga business division has done aggressive marketing, such as launching advertisements on Japanese main TV channels and organizing a variety of events.

Kakao Japan, the Japanese subsidiary of Kakao Coro, introduced "Piccoma," a Japanese manga subscription service in April 2016, three years after the launch of LINE Manga. The service but quickly took the No. 2 position in the sales rank by introducing new business models, one of which allows a user who pays for a chapter to read the next one for free if they just wait 24 hours. In particular, Piccoma received investments totaling 100 billion won in April from its parent company Kakao and institutional investors, and Piccoma has used the funds for even more aggressive marketing. In July, the company also launched a separate app called “Piccoma TV,” which provides webtoon in the form of video as a mobile content.

NHN Entertainment Japan established a platform called “Comico” in October 2013, and its MAU is around 2 million. In terms of sales at the two app stores, Comico is ranked between 5th to 10th.