What does South Korea have to do with YouTube-Google merger? Nothing blatant or obvious, yet a lot!
South Korea is one of the most wired societies and has been a broadband leader for a while. The country also has a unique position from a wireless broadband/3G perspective, and is pushing hard to develop the fourth generation wireless technologies. South Korea is a microcosm a broadband future, and Google could learn a lot from it – especially when it comes to online video.
Google recently announced that it would invest at least $10 million on an R&D center in Seoul, Korea, reports the Korea Herald, and hire 130-150 researchers. Alan Eustace, Google senior VP for engineering, told the Korea Times that they want to recruit local computer scientists to “further develop innovative search technologies for Korean users and users around the world.”
For years, Korean television viewers have been able to watch their favorite shows online. The shows are offered not by a third party like the Apple iTunes Store or Google Video, but by the TV companies themselves, who provide complete archives of their shows that can be downloaded or streamed, either for free or for pennies.
In Korea, online video is not an experiment—it is a success. It is a daily reality for most Koreans, not just for the young crowd or the techie set. The entire society has lived the broadband lifestyle for a while now, and is more attuned to its potential.
Google is smart to invest $10 million in a research lab in this broadband country. They can grab local engineers—but, much more importantly, they can learn about the local broadband “culture.” Korean Internet usage habits point the way toward what habits of American users will be like when broadband becomes as ubiquitous as it is in Korea.