Sunday, March 1, 2009

Google and Globalization, II

The Economist has a new article on Google's success, or lack thereof, in Asia.  It manages to get several points right, but in the end it fails to offer a complete and coherent explanation for why Naver does so well in the Korean search market and why Google does so poorly. I have commented on this matter before, in a post on Google and Globalization in Korea , and an earlier post on "Why Google Must Succeed in Korea, for Korea's Benefit."
As the Economist article describes, part of the problem for Google in South Korea has to do with language and culture.   In other words, Google may be able to improve upon its Korean language presentation and could make its services more appealing to Koreans, culturally speaking.   However, this skirts around the main issue.

  • Google is a search technology that uses robots in an effort to identify and classify all of the information on the internet, whatever the language.
  • Naver, on the other hand, does not search the internet.  It is a Korean-language database, created for Koreans, to help them collectively answer questions, which explains why "Knowledge-In" is the most popular service.
So, trying to make a one-on-one comparison of Google with Naver really is comparing apples and oranges.  As I have argued in earlier posts, the popularity of Naver, or the lack of success for Google, whichever way you put it, says volumes about the information culture in South Korea.  Use of Google for search is indeed one reasonable measure of globalization here.


  1. I think the story is same for all countries that do not use English as a primary language. Before entering any foreign market, it is important to understand the culture and dynamics and plan your strategy based on it.

  2. However, the story is NOT the same for all countries that do not use English as a primary language. Nearly all countries in the world show high rates of usage for Google, except for South Korea, China, Russia and the Czech Republic.

    Jim Larson