Finding your way in Korean cyberspace

Search engines are the portals to the web. Who has the largest market share of web visitors controls people’s way into the ever expanding meta-verse (this is how Neal Stephenson called a virtual world not unlike the web, but more intricate). As a westerner you think the greatest players on this search engine market are Google by Google and Bing by Microsoft, and Yahoo as well. Not so in South Korea.


In South Korea, Google is just a minor player. Google Korea has a market share of appr. 2.2%. So, not that special. Then recently, they lost Daum’s major advertisement contract  to competitor Yahoo.

Apparently, as a last effort to increase the market share Google’s virginal search page will be revamped with news and information, blogs and photo’s. Is this a desperate last effort to have a viable Google outlet in South Korea, or is this an indication that a global mogul cannot stand it being tiny in one country?

Although Korea is a significant market, one could question why Google wants to put so much effort in increasing their market share. It’ll be more and more difficult, because the third largest search engine operator Nate (owner of Cyworld) restyled its portal, by incorporating the Cyworld logon screen onto the search page. Doing so they hope to increase traffic on their website. The ultimate goals is to take over the number 2 position from Daum.

A few things are clear. Google is not always successful. Google will localize their search page in other countries, when they need to (for whatever reason). Google will stay tiny, unless Korean industry innovates to other and new platforms. If Google wants to win over Korean hearts, it’s best they focus on Google Chrome OS, thereby creating a new following on the search engine market, and freeing Koreans from the dominant power of Microsoft. However, I think this will take quite some time.

Published by

Maurice Vergeer

I am Maurice Vergeer, working at Communication Science department of the Radboud University Nijmegen, in the Netherlands.