A case study for Yahoo: “Naver owes its popularity, in part, to the fact that it is not just a search engine”

From The Economist this week, we have an article on the success of Naver in South Korea:

Naver owes its popularity, in part, to the fact that it is not just a search engine. Like Yahoo!, it is also a portal, drawing together news, e-mail, discussion groups, stockmarket information, videos, restaurant reviews and so on. Some 17m people visit its home-page every day and since January they have been able to customise it according to their own tastes.

And of course I never underestimate the situational factors that may have given Naver an edge. It’s been suggested that Naver gained an edge because it helped create much of the content that it then indexed/organized for its users. But as content proliferates, will it outgrow Naver’s way or organizing information? As we know, taking a non-algorithmic approach to organizing information does not scale so well.

Web20Asia does a good job explaining the difference between Google and Naver:

Though both are called search, Naver and Google are quite different species. Naver’s forte is in aggregating useful information for popular topics, often created by the users themselves (blogs and Q&A searches), and presenting such information in a very human-friendly way (heard “universal search”?). Unlike Google, Naver doesn’t rely almost entirely on the brute force performance of its search algorithm

It looks like Naver has a pretty strong lock on the South Korean market but perhaps Google has an opportunity to gain share in the Chinese market. The article discusses the search market in China, and how missteps by Baidu may open up opportunities for Google:

Although Google is having trouble making any headway in South Korea, it may have more of a chance in China, where the market leader, Baidu, has been hit by a series of scandals. Last September, at the height of the scandal over melamine-tainted milk, rumours began to spread that Baidu had accepted payment to expunge stories on the subject from its search results. Baidu denied any wrongdoing. A few weeks later the firm was accused of giving prominence in its search results, in return for payment, to unlicensed drugs companies.

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