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Google’s April user count surpasses ‘Naver+Next’… Korean internet market under pressure

South Koreans visit Google more often than native portals (Naver + Daum), according to a new study. The number of Google users has been increasing rapidly this year, raising concerns that the Korean Internet market is becoming a “Google heaven”.

According to SEMrush, a U.S. marketing research firm, the cumulative number of people who visited Google (excluding YouTube) on PC and mobile in Korea last month was 66.88 billion. This is a 43.94% increase from the same period last year. If you include YouTube (372 billion), which is powered by Google, the cumulative total is about 487 billion.

On the other hand, the cumulative number of visitors (PC+mobile) to NAVER in Korea last month was 42.37 billion, down 2.26% from the previous year. During the same period, Daum, operated by Kakao, had 7.675 billion unique visitors, a 13.6% plunge from the same period last year. The combined total of Naver and Daum is 49.7 billion, which is still far behind Google.

Graphic by Seohee Jung

This suggests that users are using Google more often than Naver메이저사이트 or Daum when searching for information or content on the internet.

There is a difference between Google and Naver-Next search engines. Naver and Kakao emphasize accessibility to their own services and content, i.e., they are “closed portals” centered on their own content such as blogs, cafes, and news. Google is an “open portal” that focuses on providing various contents such as communities beyond its own services.

Google’s competitiveness has been strengthened as the Internet ecosystem has rapidly shifted from PC to mobile. Google’s Android OS (operating system), which bisects the smartphone ecosystem with Apple’s iOS, has set Google as the default search for internet browsers.

In particular, Naver and Kakao are struggling in the video content era. Despite the global popularity of K-pop, they have not benefited much from Google’s ownership of YouTube.

Naver and Kakao

In terms of search share alone, Naver and Daum were close to 80% and 10% respectively in 2017, but plummeted to 63% and 5% by the end of last year, according to NHN Data. Over the same period, Google grew from 9% to 31%.

Sensing the crisis, Naver and Kakao have been hastily revamping their search services. NAVER is preparing a service to explore more content based on AI recommendations in search results later this year. It also plans to expand its Open Talk and Issue Talk categories and put content that Gen Z (those born between the mid-1990s and early 2000s) find interesting, such as short-form videos, at the forefront.

On the 15th, Kakao spun off the following companies into independent companies (CICs). The new CICs will focus on core businesses such as search, media, and community services to create a foothold. The goal is to launch new services utilizing AI in line with rapidly changing trends.

“At a time when the search market is shifting to chatbot services such as ChatGPT, if Naver and Kakao fail to adapt, they could follow in the footsteps of Lycos and Yahoo in the past,” said an IT industry insider.

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