Google adopts universal search in South Korea

/ Source: The Associated Press

Google Inc. said Wednesday it has overhauled its Korean-language search engine to broaden its appeal in South Korea, one of the world's most wired countries and one of the few where Google isn't dominant.

Local search engines such as NHN Corp.'s Naver Web site lead the sector in South Korea. Some users say local sites are better adapted to factors specific to the market, with more visually complex sites and reliance on human interaction instead of software to get results.

Google has adopted universal search — a results-blending concept that has caught on at other top search engines — for its Korean-language services, said Lee Won-jin, managing director of Google Korea.

Universal search combines search-engine results from a broader array of potential sources, such as videos or pages of books from online libraries, as well as data created by the search engine itself.

"The interface change will distinguish us from other search engines in Korea, where growth potential is huge given its broad base of Internet users," Lee said at a news conference. "We're not setting any domestic market share target, but we expect the new services will help."

The Mountain View, Calif.-based Internet company adopted universal search for its English version last May as other Web-search engines also tried to integrate different types of information.

Rivals such as Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp. and IAC Interactive Corp.'s search engine adopted the universal search concept late in 2007 with varying results.