Saturday, April 14, 2007

Why Google isn't big in Korea

I've thought long and hard about Google and why it doesn't have a presence here in Korea. Despite the fact that Google is the biggest search engine in the world, and individually in most countries, Google isn't well-used here. They do have two good home-grown portals in Daum and Naver, but I don't understand why Google isn't making more of an effort here.

One thing I hate about Google in Korea is that is loves to change the display language on its sites based on my IP. This is a real annoyance actually. The biggest problem is when I log into Blogger. Even though I'm using an English OS, English browser, and even though my account has English as its default language, it loads half of the time in Korean. Blogger doesn't include an easy way to change language once you're logged in.

Today, I was trying out the Korean search engines to see what the appeal was. I was overwhelmed by the sites. Flashing pictures, animated ads, and links galore. Compare Google's first page with the Korean search engines:

The image above shows Google and its clean and simple homepage.

Naver, (pronounced nay-ver) is the #1 Korean search engine.

Daum, the #2 Korean portal. In 1994, Daum bought American search company Lycos. The homepage has ads galore. It even does the favor of putting ad ad in the search bar when the page first loads! See a close up below:

Maybe the reason that Google isn't doing so well here in Korea is because maybe the Koreans like all the flashing, bright, clutter.


  1. hi... I accidently steped on your blog... and had to comment.

    The reason why Naver and Daum is big is that the links have been editted by humans taylored to the tastes of the koreans. Google relies on some software concoction to make the links.

  2. Actually, Google is making huge inroads into the Korean crowd. They have partnered with Samsung and LG for mobile searches, which, especially in Korea, is a huge market.

    I also do not think that people like the bling bling on Korean portals; I think it's more a case of inertia. They are used to it. They will eventually come around to something that works. Google is also available in the customized (Google IG) page if people do prefer bulkier starting points.

    I do agree that Google's automation of language based only on the IP, disregarding every other setting I have made, is a huge pain in the backside.

  3. I don't see the "inertia" changing anytime soon. Most companies don't advertise their URL, but rather their keyword for Daum or Naver. This is long after the AOL and Yahoo keywords fell out of use in America.

    I've watched Koreans search the net, and even if they know the URL, they type it into the search box of whatever portal is their homepage. So, everything is filtered through these portal. This is partly because these sites "steal" the cursor from the address bar and put the it in the search bar. Man these Korean sites annoy me.


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