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Where Google isn’t big

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Friday July 6, 2007 )

Believe it or not, there is a country where Google isn’t big, in fact it’s hardly a blip on the radar. It’s not a little known state ending in “stan” with a population of three people and 2 million goats, nor is it a country with heavy censorship. In fact, it has a population of nearly 50 million and 70% of its citizens are Internet users.

That country is South Korea, one of the worlds most-wired nations. According to this article on the New York Times, a portal called accounts for over 77 percent of all web searches performed in South Korea. Google accounts for 1.7%


It seems that back in 1999, shortly after Google started up and the company behind Naver, NHN, also launched their portal, Korean text on the web was scarce and not enough to make for a viable Korean search engine. NHN decided to create the content by involving users in a real time Q&A application. Users would log on and ask a question, then other users would answer – this strategy greatly appealed to South Koreans’ need for sense of community and human interaction. The portal blossomed, rapidly building a searchable database on a broad range of topics.

On a typical day, Naver receives 16 million visitors. Users post an average of 44,000 questions per day which receive approximately 110,000 answers. The user-generated database currently contains about 70 million entries.

It looks like Google could have quite a job ahead of it establishing a serious foothold in South Korea; Naver isn’t their only competition – another local company, has a 10.8 percent market share, followed by Yahoo’s Korean language engine at 4.4 percent.

Might be time for Sergey and Larry to pull out the checkbook – but they’ll have to dig deep – NHN has a current market value of over $8 billion and was the source of over 50% of NHN’s revenue last year.


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