Posted : 2017-03-15 16:03
Updated : 2017-03-15 18:45

Naver beefs up rivalry against Google, MS over web browser

Naver's new web browser, Whale / Courtesy of Naver

By Lee Min-hyung

Naver, the nation's dominant portal service operator, is challenging Google and Microsoft over the next-generation internet browser ecosystem here, unveiling a beta service for its first web browser, Whale.

The Seoul-based company explained it launched the new browser to meet the ever-growing need for a new internet platform compatible with emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality.

"Technologies are developing at a rapid pace, but the development of web browsers has so far failed to catch up with them," a Naver spokesman said.

As of last month, Google's Chrome browser ruled the nation's internet browser market with a 56.04 percent share, followed by Internet Explorer (IE) from Microsoft with 34.82 percent, according to data by market researcher StatCounter.

It remains to be seen whether the new Naver browser can beat the two overseas IT giants whose combined share exceeds 90 percent.

But as Naver holds more than 70 percent of the search engine market share here, Chrome may lose its browser dominance to the local portal operator, according to observers. In recent years, IE has also lost its ground to Chrome, due to the latter's simple interface and relatively-faster search speed.

"Our lives are filled with state-of-the-art technologies such as AI, autonomous vehicles and the internet of things," the spokesman said. "But internet browsers, standing at the center of them, still require more developments, as users have a tough time in multitasking on the internet. Our new browser is expected to stop such uncomfortable experiences."

Key features of the Whale browser include what the firm says omni-tasking, which allows users to conduct multilateral tasks on one screen without opening a lot of tabs on the internet.

"For example, users can check a messenger service on the left side of their screen, and conduct conventional internet tasks on the right side," he said.

Another key marketing point is a quick search feature. When users drag certain words or sentences with a mouse, the browser translates or explains their meanings instantly, the company said.

Naver said the accuracy of the service will get better, with the firm collecting more datasets for its neural machine translation-based translation platform, Papago.

Whale has been developed by Google's open-source web browser platform, Chromium. More than 100 internet browsers have been developed by using source codes from the platform.

"At first, we started developing the browser with our own technologies," said the Naver official. "But the strategy of sticking to in-house technologies did not work to improve user-friendliness, so we scrapped the decision."

This is because other companies or developers have to get used to our ecosystem, making it harder to develop applications on a real-time basis, said the company official.

"It took almost five years for Whale to make its debut. We are going to share our years-long know-how, contributing to developing the browser industry as a whole," he said.

The company also plans to launch mobile Whale service in the latter half of the year.

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