Milestone in NHN-Twitter rivalry – I welcome the competition. Let’s see what they can do.

Milestone in NHN-Twitter rivalry
Korean microblog sees 1 million users
March 04, 2010

“Social media is the new inbox,” Erik Qualman, the author of “Socialnomics,” was once quoted as saying.

Some time has passed since microblogs like Twitter emerged as the darlings of the world of social networking.

While endorsements from numerous high-profile figures in politics and entertainment have certainly played a role in the increasing popularity of Twitter and other microblogging sites, their role in breaking the news of the Hudson River plane crash in New York last year also provided a major boost.

Now, the top Korean portal operator NHN has announced that me2DAY, a Korean microblogging service, has registered its millionth user, and the company has vowed to enhance the site so it can catch up with Twitter, which has entered the international lexicon like Google before it.

The San Francisco-based Twitter does not release official figures on the number of users it has, but some industry sources here estimate that some 100,000 Koreans use the service to “tweet” their thoughts.

“It’s difficult to say whether we are a market leader in local SNS at the moment,” said Kim Sang-hun, NHN’s CEO. “Yet I believe that the key words that will change the paradigm of Internet business today are ‘mobile,’ ‘relations’ and ‘real-time.’ In that sense, I believe NHN’s me2DAY is in tune with this trend.”

NHN kicked off its me2DAY service, using the slogan, “What are you thinking now?” in January 2009. At the start, there were just 26,000 users.

Me2Day is a lot like Twitter in terms of functionality, except perhaps the U.S. site’s added compatibility with smartphones.

NHN is in the process of remedying that problem. Last year, it introduced me2DAY apps for the iPhone as well as for smartphones with Windows Mobile platforms.

“In the coming months, we plan to add a photo attachment service and enhance the search capabilities of our me2Day service, among other things,” said Park Su-man, head of the company’s microblog task force.

NHN officials also predict that many politicians will use the service ahead of the June 2 local elections, and the Blue House said last week that it will also use me2DAY to connect with the general public.

I’m not sure that I believe Me2Day can catch up, but I’d like to see them try. I think competition in this area will benefit both services.

I also don’t believe that there are more Me2Day users in Korean than Twitter users. In a small, informal survey (ok, just 2 of my classes), no student knew what Me2Day was and about half knew Twitter. Out of those, only a few were actually using Twitter (we will be using it in those classes this semester).

2 thoughts on “Milestone in NHN-Twitter rivalry – I welcome the competition. Let’s see what they can do.”

  1. The problem is, it’s difficult to ascertain how many Twitter users there are in Korea. Personally, I’m in agreement that there are more me2DAY users than Twitter users. Almost everyone in my network of friends uses Twitter but I believe that’s greatly due to demographic. me2DAY is strongest in the 10-19 age group due to their marketing tie-ins with the entertainment industry.Obviously, me2DAY has a huge advantage since it is owned by Naver. It also tailors its service to Korean users specifically. I do think Twitter is one of the few foreign services that stands a chance at actually becoming a market leader in Korea.

  2. Victory, I’d agree that with the statement that there are more registered Me2Day users, but I’d bet there are more active Twitter users. I’d love to see numbers 🙂 I don’t see that Me2Day is integrated with anything yet except Naver’s mobile page. Erik, I agree, but that’s not just a Korean thing. Those are English words 🙂 Heck, even Google’s press releases are full of those.Erik #2, my pleasure, but I’m not pulling for Me2Day here. Unless Naver opens their API and let’s some real innovation happen around the service, it’s dead to me. I love that I have so many options when using Twitter and the community/developers have taken it from a place of minimally interactive status updates to a rich community integrated with nearly every kind of service that one could imagine (and more every day). This is the kind of model that makes Korean tech giants queasy.

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