Naver focuses on mobile shopping

Naver is trying to finally crack the mobile business, which it admits has been its Achilles’ heel. Naver is the largest search engine and portal in the country. However, as people steadily shift away from PCs to access the Internet, Naver has been seeking new businesses in the mobile sector. Naver said Tuesday it is introducing a one-stop mobile shopping platform in the first half of this year that forecasts the needs of users and reflects them in search results. It hopes users will shop and pay for goods using its payment system Naver Pay.

“Everyone knows that Naver is not No. 1 in the mobile business,” said Han Seong-sook, head of Naver’s services departments, at a press conference at Naver Partner Square in Yeoksam-dong, Gangnam, southern Seoul Turesday. “Naver lacks content and sharing functions, which are the most important component in mobile. We have a sense of urgency.”

Social networking services such as Google and Facebook are also competing in the mobile shopping market to compete with Amazon, Alibaba and eBay. Naver said it will use an Shopping Trend Graph algorithm that shows relevant information about shopping in search result and the algorithm can predict the users’ interests. Around 34 percent of keywords in Naver searches are already shopping related.

For full article, see Joongang Daily.


North Korea is showing keen interest in electronic payment

North Korea, reportedly, is stepping up efforts to develop scientific technology for economic revival while at the same time working to bring stabilization to the new government led by Kim Jong-un for three years since he took office as first secretary of the ruling Workers’ party.

In particular, the North is reported to show much interest in electronic payment systems appearing in the global market. It is well known that Kim Jong-un in his early 30s, who directly experienced the information and communications revolution, has put a lot of efforts into technology development in the field of information and communications technology.

“North Korea is keenly interested in electronic payment systems such as PayPal,” said Park Chan-mo (79), an honorary president, who teaches students in Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, in an interview with the Maeil Business Newspaper. He elaborated on the changing North Korean society during the three year regime of Kim Jong-un.

For full article, see Maeil Business.

LG Electronics supplies Google with auto parts

LG Electronics has provided four high-speed battery chargers for Google’s electric vehicle plug-in charging stations in a bid to make headway in the automotive industry while strengthening its relationship with Google, industry sources said on Sunday. LG said it did not manufacture the chargers, and that they were made by another domestic firm.

The deal appeared to have been discussed in detail in October 2013 when Google chairman Eric Schmidt visited LG Electronics’ Incheon campus, where LG’s automobile parts and components division is located. For months prior, the two firms reportedly met on several occasions to talk about cooperating on Google’s smart cars. The deal may now help the two IT giants, which already enjoy a partnership with the Nexus phones, to expand their partnership in the auto industry despite LG’s still-weak performance in the vehicle component areas.

For full article, see Korea Herald.

Samsung and Google agree on patent peace accord

2014_01_samsung_appleSamsung Electronics has signed a 10-year peace treaty with Google that will prevent the two companies from waging a patent war against one another, a move the Korean tech firm believes will help further isolate arch rival Apple. Samsung said yesterday it signed a patent cross-license agreement that covers “a broad range of technologies and business areas” with Google. The “mutually beneficial agreement” covers not only existing patents but also new patents to be filed by 2023, Samsung said.

“We’re pleased to enter into a cross-license with our partner, Samsung,” said Allen Lo, deputy general counsel for patents at Google, in a statement.  Samsung said the deal paves “the way for deeper collaboration on the research and development of current and future products and technologies.”

Samsung declined to detail how many of the two companies’ patents will be subject to the cross-license deal, saying that it is confidential. But a significant portion of the patents held by Samsung and Google are believed to be included. Samsung holds about 100,000 patents, while Google owns around 50,000. “We can’t say everything, but it is wide ranging and comprehensive,” said a Samsung Electronics official.

The deal, analysts say, will help the two companies improve on each other’s weak points: software in the case of Samsung and hardware for Google. But Samsung is also expected to benefit from some of the hardware technologies that Google has worked on in recent years, such as robotics and wearable devices.

For full article, see Joongang Daily.

Google Korea searches for answers

2014_01_portalsMost Koreans today use Naver, which has 70 percent of the portal market, or Daum, which has 20 percent. Portal market share is based on the number of searches performed. Although Google and Yahoo are Internet search engines and portal sites that are globally competitive, they have failed to catch on in Korea. Google ranks a distant third, and Yahoo Korea closed up shop in December 2012.

When it began in 1997, Yahoo Korea established itself as a leading domestic portal site, at one time ranking first in visitor numbers. However, its market share declined drastically after 2000, until it was knocked out of the top 10 in September 2012 with a share of less than 1 percent. Korea is one of five countries, along with China, Japan, Russia and the Czech Republic, where Google has failed to dominate the Internet search market, according to a survey released by Democratic Party lawmaker Yoo Seung-hee. Google entered the domestic market in March 2001.

Google operates in 50 countries and has 82 percent of the world’s portal market. Yet it has only managed to gain a share of 3 percent in Korea, according to Nielsen KoreanClick, an Internet research and consulting firm. As of November, Google had 11.4 percent of the domestic mobile portal market compared to Naver’s 70 percent and Daum’s 13.4 percent.

For full article see Joongang Daily.

Can Samsung build its own ecosystem with Tizen?

2013_02_samsung_OSSamsung Electronics has emerged as a global corporation commensurate with U.S. technology giant Apple but a weakness in software is still the Korean firm’s Achilles heel. The world’s largest electronics maker by revenue is now first in market share and annual shipments of smartphones and total handsets, thanks to the popularity of its Galaxy series. Now it hopes to expand to software with its own operating system (OS), Tizen.

The firm will showcase a high-end phone running on the OS to clients at the Mobile World Congress to be held in Barcelona from Feb. 25 to 28, though the event won’t be open to the public. Samsung is beating Apple on the hardware front, backed by smartphones with high-quality, large-sized screens, which are its most valuable asset, according to mobile chief Shin Jong-kyun. But its software ecosystem is, to put it mildly, meager compared to its California rival.

For full article, see Korea Times.

Korea’s rebuilding itself on the Internet

When a nation goes from having no smartphones to having them almost everywhere in just three years, you naturally ask what difference it makes.

I came to Korea in October, with one theory about this: that this was another example of smartphones opening a country to the world. I left with a slightly different theory, that Korea ― especially its young people ― was already open to the world, the smartphones just made it easier for them to reach it and touch all of it at once. I was lucky enough to meet PSY and have an hour taking questions from students who had travelled from across Korea, who all showed a real desire to reach out and succeed across borders.

It’s only natural that they should pick the Internet to do that. Consumer electronics have been experiencing a global transition, and Korea is leading the way into what I see as the third wave of consumer electronics.

For the full article by Eric Schmidt, Google Executive Chairman, see Korea Times.

Smartphones evolve into niche industries

Since smartphones first touched down in Korea with the arrival of the iPhone 3GS in late 2009, the market has seen exceptional growth. By the end of this year, the industry estimates 34.8 million people in the country will own a smartphone given the recent release of Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy S3 and the upcoming launch of Apple’s iPhone5. The wide use of mobile gadgets has not only inspired the related advertising market to expand, but is also changing the way consumers here make purchases. The Korea JoongAng Daily puts the domestic mobile ad and shopping market under the microscope. 

NHN Corp. is restructuring its business to focus on the mobile market as more Koreans give their PCs the cold shoulder in favor of Tweeting, KakaoTalk-ing, Facebook-ing and generally surfing the Web on their mobile devices and smartphones.

To profit from this shifting trend, the nation’s leading Internet content operator launched its mobile ad platform late last month to lure advertisers following a successful trial run.

For full article see Joongang Daily.

Korean carriers to charge internet companies for network use

South Korea’s major internet providers KT, SK Broadband, and LG Uplus agreed to charge key internet portals such as Naver, Daum, and Google for use of their networks. As smart TVs and internet-based video services gain momentum, network providers are looking for ways to share the burden of rapidly growing data traffic, say experts.

Korea’s main network operators and the Korea Telecommunications Operators Association (KTOA) reached an agreement on a scheme designed to impose network fees on major internal portal sites and published a guideline on the price-sharing scheme, said industry sources Wednesday.

In essence, the guideline calls for the application of interconnection fees used in telecom networks to the internet as well. The exact fees have not been set, but the most likely pricing will be between 75 won to 100 won ($ 0.09) per gigabyte (GB). Foreign firms like Google, owner of Youtube, and Apple which runs a successful platform business will be charged through other methods such as legal claims for profit-sharing.

For full article see Maeil Business.