The Korea Herald

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Mobile Web surfing gains momentum among Korean users

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Published : Oct. 16, 2011 - 19:50

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The red-hot boom of smartphones in South Korea is reshaping the way people surf the Web, heralding changes in the cyberspace in favor of greater mobile access rather than conventional media such as desktop and laptop computers.

The proportion of those accessing major Korean portals and social networking sites using mobile devices has jumped by more than 50 percent, aided by the spread of smartphones, industry data showed Sunday.

Korea’s smartphone industry, which was in its infancy just two years ago, is growing at a rapid pace thanks to the sweeping changes brought by the introduction of Apple’s iPhone. The U.S. tech giant’s device sparked heated competition in the domestic high-end phone market, particularly with Samsung Electronics, resulting in a faster adoption of smartphones by local subscribers. This is now leading to a hike in mobile access to major portals, which find its longstanding strategy based on the user interaction with desktop and laptop computers.

According to industry sources, more than half of unique visitors at leading Korean portal sites such as Naver and Daum accessed the sites via their mobile handsets enabled with Web browser programs during the second quarter of the year.

In the final quarter of last year, 30 percent of Naver’s unique visitors accessed the portal using mobile devices. The figure then rose to 40 percent in the first quarter of this year, and then to over 50 percent in the following quarter.

Similar changes were seen in Daum’s unique visitor composition.

According to Daum, unique visitors visiting the website from mobile devices accounted for 35 percent of the total in the first quarter of the year, but the figure rose to 50 percent during the second quarter of the year.

The country’s biggest social network site Cyworld also saw the daily average of unique visitors from mobile phones rise above 50 percent in August.

According to SK Communications, which operates Cyworld, the proportion of unique visitors using mobile phones on a daily basis came in at 51 percent in August. The figure was compared to 22 percent in February.

The Internet industry is attributing the changes to the increase in the number of smartphones in use. At the end of last month, about 18 million people were using smartphones, and the telecom industry projects the number to break the 20 million mark next month.

In addition, with the launch of smartphones supporting the next generation long-term evolution telecom technology, the proportion of Korean phone users accessing portal sites from mobile phones is expected to surge further.

With mobile surfing becoming increasingly popular, portal site operators have been looking to develop new profit models including search and banner advertisements, and device-specific applications.

By Choi He-suk (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)