Webtoon publishing Piccoma and Line Manga apps developed by Korean IT-Giants Kakao and Naver Corp have become the highest-grossing mobile apps in Japan amidst the pandemic.
Piccoma is ranked at number 1 among all novel and comic apps in the world. The transaction volumes of Piccoma in the third-quarter tripled to 11.6 billion yen ($110 million). This has extended a hike in online manga sales surpassing print in Japan’s $5 billion manga industry. On the other hand, Line Manga which is now operated by Z Holdings, saw a hike in its transaction volumes by a third to 8.2 billion yen during the pandemic.
When Piccoma was launched, it offered a model of buying individual manga, similar to other online shops. Today, it has adopted the webtoon model in which a user can buy chapter-wise. It is believed that the success of Piccoma is largely due to its webtoon-based service. In the third quarter of 2020, the webtoon transactions of Piccoma totaled 58 billion, which is a 70.1 percent rise compared to the earlier quarter.
These apps were inspired by smartphone games in which playing is free, but if a reader wants to read more, they have to pay extra. This approach marked a departure from the typical way of selling an entire manga volume. Most readers who are eager to know what happens next end up paying. This model is now popular among dozens of tech companies, booksellers, and publishers. Piccoma, a subsidiary of Kakao Corp, is a digital comics platform that began its Japan-based services in 2016.