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Software developers thrive

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Oct 04,2004
The software business in Korea is a double-edged sword. While illegal copying of software has more than doubled since last year, domestic software development has also become more vibrant. According to the Ministry of Information and Communication, 84 percent of public organizations and companies were discovered using pirated software in a study conducted by the ministry between January and June. The percentage of illegal software out of the total in use was 30.4 percent. That is more than double last year’s total, which was 14.7 percent. In 2002, the rate of illegal software use was 8.2 percent. The high rate of illegal software use in offices is sometimes unnoticed by the organization or company itself. At computer shops in large electronic shopping malls, some shops install software worth millions of won for free ― including Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Office and SAS. “The awareness of intellectual rights and illegal copying is still at a very low level,” a ministry official said. While pirated software use is rampant in local offices, the situation in domestic software development is actually brightening. Haansoft Inc. is a domestic developer that makes its own document processing program specially designed for the Korean language. Thanks to its Korean language word processor, “Hangul,” Haansoft had a net profit of 4.3 billion won ($3.7 million) last year out of total sales of 18.4 billion won. In the first half of this year, the firm had sales of 16.2 billion won and an operating profit of 5.2 billion won. This is a considerable improvement, considering that the company had accumulated deficits of over 80 billion won between 2000 and 2002 and was almost taken over by Microsoft for $20 million. Through restructuring and business network maintenance, however, it was able to get back on its feet. Meanwhile, Haansoft is taking a more global perspective on business. The company was selected yesterday as the Korean partner company that will participate in Asianux, a Linux operating system that is being developed jointly by Korea, China and Japan. Handysoft Corp., another domestic software developer, made its first venture in the U.S. market in 1998, armed with a business process manager solution. It invested 50 billion won for three years but didn’t sell one solution. In 2001, however, it succeeded in landing a deal to supply the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology, which led to about 40 other deals with U.S. government organizations. Currently, it has about 250 clients, including GE, Delta and Citigroup. Tmax Soft Co. develops software for large companies, mainly programs known as “middleware” that link personal computers with a firm’s main database. Tmax jumped into the U.S. market in 2000, which was mostly held by large American firms such as BEA and IBM. In three years, it succeeded in increasing market share to 30 percent. by Yoon Chang-hee, Wohn Dong-hee


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