Blog Post

Google Searches for Korean Mobile Market

Google will develop a mobile search engine tailored for South Korean cell phones in partnership with Korea’s largest wireless operator SK Telecom, says the Korea Times. Google has search deals in place with carriers like Japan’s KDDI, but has recently been eying the Korean market, likely given the high broadband and wireless Internet usage in that country — Google previously announced that it is investing $10 million into a Korean R&D center.

“Google is now working on a mobile search engine customized for Korean cell phones, and the first product will have its debut next month,’’ SK Telecom official Yang Yoon-seon said. “Under the envisioned mobile services, search results will cover the full fixed-line Web on top of wireless search-specific network”

After failing to find much success in the Korean Internet market over the past few years, maybe mobile will offer Google a better way into the country’s broadband marketplace. Google execs often discuss how wireless devices will be the future gateway for online services, but carriers in certain countries are more hesitant to feature Google’s dominant brand name too prominently on devices and carrier decks.

3 Responses to “Google Searches for Korean Mobile Market”

  1. Google doesn’t stand a chance. Apart from the competitive environment which the previous poster describes well, the fact is that Google simply doesn’t work well for searches in Korean. A trivial example is that the concept of a word is somewhat different in Korean — there are spaces between them but most continuous strings of ‘letters’ also have words within them. Google’s search engine doesn’t seem to understand this (and much else besides) and the results are not good. Ask almost any Korean speaker. It’s crazy for them to be trying to expand through marketing efforts when the product is poor compared to the competition. I hope a Korean search company beats Google to the Chinese market (Chinese is much more similar to Korean than to English), as they certainly deserve to based on performance.

  2. What’s funny about Google’s Korean push is that it comes so late in the game. It almost parallels Wal-Mart’s entry into Korea a few years ago when they thought they could just work in Korea because they were so big elsewhere.

    Very few US firms have been able to import their technology into Korea and we’re seeing the first signs of an agressive Korean push into the US. Korea’s homebrewed portals, search, tech firms are so on the curve of the latest, I’m gonna say Google is going to have to buy someone local if they want to get anywhere.

    Just to put things in perspective: Video re-broadcast on broadband of the hottest TV shows started in 2000. Micropayments ala iTunes style has been around for more than 5 years. Google (and other US firms) should setup massive R&D setups to make Korea it’s own playground of future tech. The US’ mobile-startup firm looks pitiful compared to whats available on the Korean market.