August 24, 2007

Naver, The Google Of South Korea

Crowd's wisdom helps South Korean search engine beat Google and Yahoo from the New York Times describes South Korea's most popular search engine, Naver.
Naver currently has a 77 percent share of all searches from within South Korea. Daum.net follows with 10.8 percent, Yahoo with just 4.4 percent and Google with a tiny 1.7 percent of Korean Web searches.
Why does Google fall short in South Korea? Wayne Lee, an analyst at Woori Investment and Securities, said "No matter how powerful Google's search engine may be, it doesn't have enough Korean-language data to trawl to satisfy South Korean customers."
Naver's founders realized that when searching in Korean, there was hardly anything to be found. So they set out to create the content and databases, so that when you would search in Korean, you would find quality content. Naver set up "Knowledge iN" in 2002, enabling Koreans to help each other in a type of real-time question-and-answer platform. On average, 44,000 questions are posted each day with about 110,000 returned answers.
The company is now the most profitable in South Korea and employs "27,000 workers, posted 299 billion won, or $325 million, in profit out of 573 billion won in sales last year. It has a market value of nearly 8 trillion won," says the New York Times article.
Google and Yahoo are making efforts to catch up in this market. Google, for example, recently announced an answers service for Russia that could also come to South Korea (see Google Launches "Question and Answers" In Russia). Google also recently has tried to jazz up its Korean home page (see Google's New 'Animated' Home Page In Korea).

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