Facebook's $19 billion purchase brings attention to mobile messaging apps. So what are they?

The Associated Press

This Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014 photo, shows the WhatsApp and Facebook app icons on an iPhone in New York. On Wednesday Facebook announced it is buying mobile messaging service WhatsApp for up to $19 billion in cash and stock. (AP Photo/Karly Domb Sadof)

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Created in 2010 by Kakao, a South Korea startup, Kakao Talk spread quickly in South Korea along with rapid adoption of smartphones. It has become the go-to free messaging service enjoyed by nearly all Korean smartphone users, giving birth to new idioms such as "Let's do Ka Talk." Some government officials and business people hold online meetings in Kakao Talk's group chat rooms. Abroad, it has lagged behind LINE and others in popularity. As of last month, Kakao Talk had 130 million users exchanging 5.5 billion messages a day and spending 213 minutes on the app every week. Kakao Talk is looking for ways to extend beyond messaging and mobile games to become a portal for navigating the mobile Internet and an e-commerce platform. Mobile games helped the app become profitable in 2012 and Kakao plans an IPO for 2015. Tencent became Kakao's second-biggest shareholder in 2012.

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AP Business Writer Joe McDonald contributed to this story from Beijing.

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