NHN Corp., operator of Korea`s largest search engine Naver (www.naver.com), released a desktop search service yesterday, allowing personal computer users to find files on their hard drives atop of traditional Web search.
The new service dubbed Naver Desk-bar is NHN`s attempt to retain local customers amid the desktop search race kicked off last year by the world`s largest search engine Google Inc. (www.google.com). The competition is expected to be joined by Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo! Inc.
NHN`s desktop search, a free software that puts an icon on the task bar of Microsoft`s Windows operating system, allows people to scan their computers for information in the same way they use Naver to search the Web. The software, which works on Windows 98 and versions above, may be downloaded at http://jump.naver.com/desk.
"The desktop search services allow people to search the Web or their hard drives through a single icon on the taskbar, saving the trouble of opening separate Internet browsers," said Kang Seok-ho of NHN`s search service development team.
"We will continue to work to develop ways to provide search users comprehensive information through easier routes."
NHN, operator of Naver and popular online game portal Hangame (www.hangame.com), saw its revenue grow 32.8 percent year-on-year to 58.5 billion won in the third quarter last year on operating profit 17.7 billion won. Naver currently controls about 57 percent of Korea`s search traffic.
Desktop search applications became latest battleground in the search engine competition last year, after Microsoft announced plans to integrate a desktop _search system in their next version of Windows, code-named Longhorn, which is slated for release in 2006.
The U.S. software maker hopes the global dominance of its Web browser Internet Explorer and the Windows operating system, running on more than 90 percent of the world`s personal computers, could be a gateway to increase its presence in the search engine market mostly controlled by Google and Yahoo!.
Microsoft had enjoyed success in the past by bundling their software with Windows, as in the cases of Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player.
To counter Microsoft`s moves, Google launched its desktop search product in October last year and Yahoo! plans to release a similar tool by the end of this month.
Leading domestic portals, including Daum Communications Co., Korea`s largest e-mail service provider, have plans to enter the desktop search race this year.
By Kim Tong-hyung