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Google seeking Korean users

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May 09,2005
Domestic Internet search engines will have to contend with some heavy outside competition now that Google has decided it wants a bigger piece of the Korean market. At Korea University yesterday, Google began a bus tour in which students can climb into the two-story vehicle and try out Google’s desktop search engine and receive Gmail accounts, which have 2 gigabytes of storage. The bus will visit major university campuses in Seoul and the COEX Mall over the next three weeks. Google has a search engine in Korean (www.google.co.kr) but doesn’t have offices here. Recently, however, it has been showing more interest in the Korean market. For instance, for newer programs such as the Google Desktop Search function and Google Toolbar, the company released a Korean-language version in March, the first foreign-language version it offered. And last month, Google began offering Korean Gmail services. Riding on the bus yesterday was Hwang Jeong-mok, or Dennis Hwang, the designer of Google’s logo, which is altered according to special events or holidays. Mr. Hwang said Google is interested in Korea because of its huge, profitable Internet market. Google is adding more competition to an already-crowded Web portal market, which is currently led by Naver, a site operated by NHN, a Korean firm. Just last month, Empas, the third-largest Internet search portal, challenged Naver by providing search results for Naver inside its own site, enabling users to compare search results. In response, last week, Naver began “real-time” ranking services that show the top rankings of popular search key words. Nate.com started a service that enables users to search within Cyworld, one of the most popular community sites here. Also, Yahoo Korea said it will create a search engine for video clips. by Wohn Dong-hee


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