The Oban Blog

Google Chairman visits Korea for mobile search talks

It looks like Google intends to invest heavily in the South Korean Internet market in the coming months. It is reported that Google is highly interested in the acquisition of South Korea’s second-largest search engine Daum and developing partnerships with some of the world’s leading technology firms based in Korea

Google’s Chairman Eric Schmidt visited South Korea last week to speak with various technology companies including Samsung, LG and Korean telecoms operators SK Telecom and KT as well as representatives from the two largest local search engines Naver and Daum.

It’s clear that mobile internet is a focus of Schmidt’s trip. Google said that during Schmidt’s visit to South Korea, he promoted the Android OS widely. In South Korea, about 40% of the population has a smart phone. Android has developed rapidly in Korea, but many users are unhappy that the Google browser comes installed as standard.

Since Google entered the Korean search market in 2004, its market share has been lagging behind the market share of Daum and the market leader Naver. In May this year, Daum filed antitrust charges against Google that lead to their offices in Seoul getting raided by the authorities, and since then the search giant has been increasingly keen to acquire Daum as part of its growing portfolio.

The investigation into Google in South Korea began in April, after the domestic internet companies NHN, which runs the country’s top search engine Naver, and Daum Communication, filed a complaint with the KFTC.

The companies alleged that Google is not allowing fair competition in the mobile search market. However, Google rejected this claim with the statement: “We do not require carriers or manufacturers to include Google Search or Google applications on Android-powered devices.”

In terms of other deals in the pipeline, SK Telecom is aiming to ink a separate business partnership with Google, while its rival KT is also hoping to collaborate further with the company in cloud-computing systems.

Its also rumoured that Samsung will ask Schmidt for assistance in the company’s patent battle against Apple, which happens to be Google’s biggest rival in mobile operating systems.

Thanks to the popularity of its Android-based handsets, Samsung now equals Apple in its smartphone sales.

Samsung unveiled prototypes of set-top boxes and blu-ray players to be used with the tentatively named ”Google TV” early this year and Google needs Samsung’s help to stabilize its TV business. Also, Samsung needs Google to effectively expand its ”smart TV” business as content also matters for Internet-enabled TVs.

Dan Bloomfield is an International SEO Account Manager at Oban