Is Naver falling behind in mobile web?
It was just last week that Google Korea announced that they will be starting voice search service in Korean(link to article). It will be available on the Android devices. It seems Korean is the 8th language to have this feature. This is in a heated competition with Daum’s voice search service offered on the iPhone. The key difference is that Daum’s is handled solely in the app itself but Google sends the recorded voice to the cloud where it is analyzed by a more powerful backend and a large existing database.
Korean blogger FutuerWalker did a quick comparison test of both companies services (link here). The winner is Google. It seems Google’s service delivers a more exact result. From most of the test cases the voice recognition was almost exact compared to Daum’s which didn’t do a good job once the search term gets long and complicated.
So what about Naver? Naver, the Korea’s dominant web search portal, is currently in the process of preparing a similar service but it will be available later this year. I’ve read an article in EToday that Naver’s search market share is dropping and there is possibility it may drop below 60%. As with many dominant players, Naver has been little late preparing for the mobile market. Daum has been better prepared and deploying better services on mobile. Daum started to provide a better mobile page for its services and moved faster to provide various Daum service apps on the iPhone. However Naver has been a bit slow regarding mobile services and is trying hard to catch up. Even Google with mere single digit market share has much better plans for the mobile market. One of the strong forces backing up Google is plethora of Android devices rolling out this year. You will have to have a Google account to use one and also as a default most of the devices will be configured with Google services. So all these Android users may help boost Google’s presence in the Korea’s mobile market. Of course Google has been better prepared for the mobile web ahead of other Korean search portals.
Now with voice search, which some people believe can be a killer mobile service, and many Android devices coming to market, Google finally has a good chance to bring some impact to the Korean market. Daum has been well prepared and has taken the lead to bring better mobile experience to the users. I’m looking forward to what these changes will bring to the search market in Korea.