Webtoon app service Kakao Piccoma ranked world's 35th highest-grossing app publisher

By Park Sae-jin Posted : March 13, 2024, 17:18 Updated : March 13, 2024, 17:18
Courtesy of Kakao Piccoma
[Courtesy of Kakao Piccoma]

SEOUL -- Data released by a global web service market analyst firm revealed that Kakao Piccoma, the Japanese webtoon subsidiary of South Korea's web service giant Kakao, secured the 35th spot among the world's highest-grossing app publishers.

Webtoons, initially known as webcomics, are digital comic books optimized for viewing on smartphones and other digital devices like tablets. Originating in South Korea in the mid-2000s on web portals like Daum (operated by Kakao) and Naver, they gained international popularity in the mid-2010s due to globally acclaimed South Korean webtoon-based dramas and films such as Netflix's "Kingdom" and "Sweet Home."

According to market data, consumers spent approximately $870 million on Kakao Piccoma's services in 2023. This placed the webtoon app operator at the 35th position on Data.ai's "Top Publisher Awards 2024" list. Kakao Piccoma was the sole comics app operator on the list, which was primarily dominated by Chinese game publishers like Tencent and miHoYo, along with American game publisher Activision Blizzard.

The South Korean webtoon industry has experienced remarkable growth, generating total sales of 1.8 trillion won ($1.3 billion) in 2022, marking a 16.8 percent increase compared to 2021. Annual sales of webtoon content have surged by over 400 percent since 2017, with the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism predicting they will surpass 2 trillion won in 2023.

This success is attributed in part to global popularity, particularly in Japan, traditionally known for "manga." Kakao's Piccoma and Line Manga, operated by South Korean web portal giant Naver, are the top two most popular webtoon services, each exceeding 40 million downloads on Android and Apple app stores.

Piccoma, which entered the Japanese market in 2016, recorded an annual transaction volume of 100 billion yen ($677 million) in 2023, accumulating $2.6 billion in sales over the past seven years. In contrast, Naver's Line Manga focuses on the distribution of exclusive webtoon content, while Naver's webcomics wing concentrates on the digitalization of popular printed comic books.
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