Google debuts Korean Voice Search, challenges Naver

  • Published : Jun 17, 2010 - 11:22
  • Updated : Jun 17, 2010 - 11:22

Google yesterday introduced a Korean Voice Search service for local users, as the U.S. search giant seeks to catch up with local rival Naver by beefing up its mobile software and services.

Voice Search lets mobile users search the Web by speaking into their phones rather than typing in a query. Google Korea touted the accuracy and speed of the Korean service, saying it is based on Google’s advanced data processing and voice recognition technologies. The Korean service will be available on the iPhone and Android phones, after downloading applications from AppStore and the Android Market, the company said.

Korean is the eighth language in which Voice Search is available, Google Korea said. 

Google’s Korean Voice Search service Yonhap News
The service, which was introduced in the United States in 2008, has been offered in English, Chinese, Japanese, French, German, Italian and Spanish.

Google’s latest move comes as the battleground for Internet searching is moving from PCs to mobiles, triggered by the surging popularity of smartphones in Korea, which allows users to surf the Web and download applications. The iPhone, which was launched in late November, is surging in popularity, while a series of Android-based phones are arriving on the market.

“Boosted by the explosive growth of smartphones, Google’s mobile traffic increased 10-fold in just six months,” Ted Cho, engineering site director of Google Korea, said.

Despite its dominant position elsewhere, Google has lagged far behind Naver in the Korean search engine market.

Google holds a single-digit share in the PC Web market, but it is grabbing a double-digit share in the mobile Web market, according to local market research firm Matrix. Google seeks to leverage its search prowess and mobile operating platform Android to expand into the mobile arena.

Meanwhile, Naver yesterday accused Google of hindering competition by delaying the certification of Naver’s search software for Android-based phone Optimus Q. Optimus Q, made by LG Electronics, is the first Android phone in Korea which has Naver as the default search engine, instead of Google. The smartphone phone was launched June 7, two weeks later than planned.

Lois Kim, head of Marketing and Communications, Google Korea, told The Korea Herald: “The phone had to be fixed due to the bad user experience from its browser setting. Android team had a big concern that the phone did not provide the full browser experience at that time.”

An LG Electronics spokesperson declined to comment on why the release was postponed.

However, she said the company decided to offer Naver as the default search on the “Korean-type” smartphone because of Koreans’ preference of the local search engine. Optimus Q, which was launched via smallest carrier LG Telecom, is selling well, with its sales passing 20,000 units in one week, LG Electronics said.

By Jin Hyun-joo  (