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Companies

Kakao to launch video-streaming app in Japan

South Korean company takes aim at Netflix and Amazon in growing market

KakaoTalk is South Korea's leading chat platform. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi)

TOKYO -- Kakao, the operator of South Korea's leading chat platform, will offer a video-streaming app in Japan specifically geared to smartphones that lets users watch a certain amount of free content every day, hoping to set itself apart from Netflix and Amazon.com.

The company envisions its popular manga comics app Piccoma bringing users over to the new service, and vice versa. Set to launch this summer, Piccoma TV's original content will largely consist of live-action series based on existing comics.

Kakao's comics app Piccoma draws over 1 million daily readers in Japan. (Photo by Yoichiro Hiroi)

The service will offer 10 minutes of free video per day, after which users can pay to keep watching or wait around 24 hours for another dose. The company hopes the free samples will attract users and meet demand for bite-sized chunks of video -- to watch before going to bed or while waiting for a train, for instance.

The pay model is adapted from the Piccoma app, which likewise provides users with a brief sample before asking for payment to read more. The South Korean company launched Piccoma in April 2016, and as of this month it had been downloaded over 8 million times, with 1.2 million readers or more per day.

Japan's video-streaming market is growing steadily, and companies like Netflix and Amazon.com, which charge flat monthly fees and offer original content, are building up market share. Kakao aims to stand out by providing a service designed specifically for use on smartphones.

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