Here’s why Google highlighting KakaoTalk on Wear OS 3 matters

Here’s why Google highlighting KakaoTalk on Wear OS 3 matters

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During yesterday's Google I/O keynote, determination was a infinitesimal that stood retired to maine that whitethorn person been mislaid connected a batch of folks. While giving examples of caller apps featured connected Wear OS 3, Google took the clip to telephone retired KakaoTalk. I won’t lie. I stood up, pointed my digit astatine my machine monitor, and screeched immoderate mentation of “AHA! I was right!”

If you already cognize what KakaoTalk is, you apt are Korean, Korean-American, person a ton of Korean friends, emotion K-pop and K-dramas, oregon person lived / are surviving successful Korea. You tin spot wherever I’m going here. KakaoTalk is the fig 1 messaging app successful Korea. The easiest mode I tin picture it is that KakaoTalk is Korea’s mentation of WeChat oregon WhatsApp. According to Statista, much than 47 cardinal South Koreans were progressive monthly users connected the app successful Q4 2021. The existent colonisation of South Korea is astir 51 million.

In my family, lone the iPhone users really substance each other. The remainder of the time, it’s KakaoTalk. That’s wherever the household radical chat is. It’s however I telephone and substance my aunt. If I telephone my aunt the “normal” way, she is overmuch little apt to prime up than if I telephone her implicit KakaoTalk. When my parents were alive, it was the main app we utilized to communicate, nonstop pictures, and stock videos. I sometimes perceive the KakaoTalk ringtone successful my dreams.

Most of the pre-installed apps connected  the Galaxy Watch 4 travel  from Samsung. KakaoTalk is disposable arsenic a Wear OS 3 app for the Galaxy Watch 4 now. Photo by Dieter Bohn / The Verge

While Tizen, Samsung’s proprietary wearable OS, had its strengths, it didn’t person a bully enactment of third-party apps. What third-party apps it did person were infrequently updated. Meanwhile, Apple and little technologically awesome Wear OS watches had a overmuch much robust app ecosystem. Fixing this weakness was the main crushed Samsung made the power to Wear OS.

I uncertainty Samsung would ever admit it, but my mentation is that Kakao’s refusal to marque a Tizen app drove location the constituent that Samsung would person to wantonness the level if it wanted to turn its smartwatch business. Samsung is the astir almighty institution successful the country. It accounts for astir 20 percent of South Korea’s GDP — and it could not get KakaoTalk, the country’s astir fashionable messaging and societal media app, to make a dedicated Tizen app. Reportedly, the crushed KakaoTalk gave boiled down to Tizen’s marketplace scope not being worthy the effort. To hitch brackish successful the wound, KakaoTalk had already created Android, iOS, and watchOS versions of its app. Samsung was, successful essence, getting dissed connected its location turf.

KakaoTalk really developed its Wear OS app backmost successful October, but it’s different happening for it to beryllium singled retired astatine I/O. This really isn’t the archetypal clip KakaoTalk has been featured successful Wear OS promotional materials. The app was besides thrown up on the surface astatine Google I/O past year erstwhile Google announced it was collaborating with Samsung connected Wear OS 3. I person to ideate this was Google helping Samsung retired successful appealing to the Korean market, wherever 72 percent of the colonisation uses Android and 67 percent uses Samsung phones. (Google did besides usage japchae during the keynote to demo “multisearch adjacent me,” and you cannot underestimate Korean nationalist pridefulness astatine worldly similar that.)

This is Samsung signaling to the Asian marketplace that it’s got the apps they privation now. Apps that person been connected the Apple Watch for a long, agelong time. For instance, LINE, different Korean-made chat app that is hugely fashionable successful Japan, was besides included arsenic 1 of the featured Wear OS 3 apps. And portion Google whitethorn not determine to bring the Pixel Watch to the Asian market, these additions do assistance Samsung smartwatches look much appealing successful arguably its astir important marketplace — Asia.

So this feels like one of those times wherever Google trotting retired KakaoTalk arsenic a selling constituent wasn’t meant for American oregon European markets astatine all. And judging by however I reacted, I’d accidental it was beauteous effective.