Kakao wants your routes with the launch of navi app

Kakao wants to know your routes with the launch of new navigation app ‘Kakao Navi’, and connect them to serve you while you transport.

Kakao, the operator of Korean No. 1 mobile messenger Kakao Talk, fully integrated its subsidiary mobile navigation app ‘Kim-gisa’ into Kakao family apps.

They revamped the design of Kim-gisa, which means ‘chauffeur Kim’ in Korean and whose developer LocAndAll was acquired by Kakao for 62.6 billion Won (about 50 million dollars) for 100% stake last year.

Now Kim-gisa got that friendly Kakao-themed skin and relaunched as ‘Kakao Navi’.


Kakao Navi


While you can see the familiar Kaka0-yellow and Kakao Friends characters on your new Kakao Navi, the app lets you share the destinations and arrival times.

Kakao said on Wednesday that its best feature is a system that allows users to share information. The company said Kimgisa’s traffic information collection system gathers real-time details, including ongoing events and traffic conditions. Users can share their current location, destination and expected arrival time to people registered as KakaoTalk friends. Through KakaoTalk, friends can receive texted directions to a destination without downloading the navigation app.

– Kakao joins navigation app market with Navi, Korea JoongAng Daily

The social features (, which they like to promote with such PR terms like ‘share’ and ‘openness’) do not seem very new and jaw-dropping.

We want your routes

Still it’s worth noting that they launched Kakao Navi while they try to get into your ‘move’ with transportation-related mobile apps like Kakao Taxi and expected Kakao Driver. They are part of Kakao’s O2O strategy aiming for connecting everyone and everything on and offline.

Taxi-hailing app Kakao Taxi was a great success Kakao has long awaited for years, hitting 57 million accumulated calls and 210 thousand driver users in  9 months since launch. The app used then-Kim-gisa for its navigator for drivers and Kakao Navi now receives real-time traffic information from taxis that use Kakao Taxi.

Kakao is also expected to launch Kakao Driver as early as May, which connects private one-time drivers with those who drink at dinner and want to come back home with their car.

To get what it is, you need to understand so-called ‘substitute driver service’ first. Say you drink a lot at a party, and have a car with you. You don’t want to drunk drive and your driver’s license suspended.

You can call the substitute driver service company and they connect you a driver who will drive your car and take you at backseat home. As a country famous (or notorious) for its exciting nights, the market for substitute driver service is estimated as much as 3 trillion Won (about 24 billion dollars), composed of thousands of small companies and tens of thousands of drivers.

It’s part of Kakao’s O2O strategies

With these transportation apps, Kakao expects complete dominance on your moves and routes. They know where you are, and where you are going when.

The real-time data collected from these apps increasingly improve not only the accuracy and efficiency of individual dispatch but also Kakao’s overall understanding of movements of people. You know it’s precious.

Kakao now wants to make money from so-called O2O or on-demand services. Knowing your routes is essential to facilitate O2O services, which need logistics and last-mile contacts.

Kakao Driver is also expected to earn rapid money Kakao needs. Some analysts estimate that Kakao would earn 100 billion Won (about 80 million dollars) per year through matching fee when it begins the substitute driver business.

Kakao didn’t monetize Kakao Navi and Kakao Taxi, but Kakao Driver is easy to monetize because everybody is already so accustomed to paying for substitute drivers.

It may be a breeze for Kakao, whose revenue went down last year with the decline of mobile game and advertisement business.

It’s revenue in the October to December period edged down 4.85 percent to 241.7 billion won ($202 million) from 254.046 billion won ($212.41 million) in the fourth quarter of 2014. Net profit plummeted 80.2 percent to 10.2 billion won ($8.55 million) in the 4th quarter 2015, reduced to a fraction of the net 51.7 billion won ($43.22 million) in the same quarter 2014. 

Update. Kakao acquired 100% share of Park Square for an undisclosed amount of money, JoongAng Daily reported.(Korean article)

Park Square operates Park Here app which offers parking lot information and reservation among Korean big cities. It helps the parking lot to raise the occupancy rates by connecting drivers and parking lot with vacancies.

Kakao’s another move for getting into a part of ‘transportation’ area. Now it covers navigation, taxi, substitute driving and parking business, almost every aspect of vehicle transportation.

A possible scenario goes like this where Kakao Navi guide you to your destiny and near the destination you can see the information of parking lots nearby provided by Park Here. If you drink at the dinner, you can call private driver with Kakao Driver.

Kakao did not reveal its plans for a newly acquired company or how much it spent for acquisition.



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