Popular microblogging service Twitter just learned a new language: Korean. As of Wednesday, January 19th, Korean users can now send and receive tweets in their native Hangul alphabet from the Twitter website itself, instead of having to resort to a third-party application to translate the site.
In a Korean-language press release translated in the San Francisco Chronicle, Twitter wrote:
“With this launch, Twitter is now available in seven languages: English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, and Korean. With 70 percent of Twitter accounts belonging to users outside the U.S., it’s important for us to make Twitter available in as many languages as possible, and we hope to support even more by the end of this year.”
Why Korea? At a press conference, Twitter co-founder Evan Williams says that the decision was a result of increased demand.
“It’s only the beginning […] The Korean-language tweets have grown even faster than tweets in general. We’ve seen over 3,400 percent growth of Korean language tweets from January 2010 through December.”
FastCompany notes that while Twitter has achieved a high rate of adoption among professionals and celebrities, its Korean-language competitors pose a threat to wider adoption. Per Fast Company:
“Cyworld, the country’s most popular social networking service (which also crashed and burned when it attempted to enter the American, Japanese, Taiwanese and European markets), has nearly 25 million users in a country with a population of approximately 49 million.”
Still, there’s no reason that Cyworld and Twitter can’t peaceably co-exist, just as Facebook and Twitter do in other parts of the world. Also, Twitter realizes that translation is only a first step, and the company has created a set of recommended accounts and lists for Korean-speaking users to follow.
What do you think Twitter’s next language should be?