The captured main page of Daum Communications
By Kim Tae-gyu
Daum Communications, one of the leading Internet portal sites in Korea, upgraded its search services more than 70 times last year alone in order to strengthen its competitive edge.
In particular, such attempts as enabling users to search contents of social networking services or images by colors wowed Korean customers, who are sensitive to any fresh high-tech trends.
The Seoul-headquartered company strives to keep improving its applications for both regular computers and mobile devices in tandem with the fast rise of smartphones, which have brought in the era of the go-anywhere Internet.
``We plan to beef up our search services on overseas contents written in foreign languages as well as open an automobile section this year to meet the needs of our users,’’ a Daum spokesman said.
``Plus, mobile search is gaining significance in line with the spread of smartphones. We will try to preempt competitors by coming up with the user interfaces optimized for handsets.’’
Daum has already showcased a set of innovations on mobile phone-based search such as allowing subscribers to browse the Web using voice or offering details of songs with the input of their melodies.
Search services are significant for web portals not just because they are responsible for attracting clients but also because they bring in income ― more than a half of Daum’s revenues currently come from search-related advertisements or keyword ads.
Other sectors that Daum is betting on are handset-based applications and a three-dimensional map service called Road View, the Korean equivalent of Google Street view, and Sky View, similar to Google Earth.
Daum has thus far launched a total of 16 features tailored to smartphones including wireless instant messaging service MyPeople. The number of its customers topped the 5 million mark recently.
``We have prepared for the mobile revolution earlier than our rivals. We will make efforts to remain ahead of the pack in the wireless businesses on top of the mapping services,’’ the spokesperson said.
On the back of the initiatives, Daum has racked up record sales and profits last year. Its turnover jumped to 345.5 billion won, up 41 percent from 2009, while operating profits more than doubled from 44.5 billion won to 97.9 billion won during the period.
It also got off to a strong start this year ― sales amounted to 97.3 billion won in the initial quarter, up 33.7 percent from a year before, and operating incomes stood at 25.6 billion won, up 60.4 percent.
Market observers also paint a rosy picture for the future of Daum.
``Daum is expected to expand its share in the local web search market this year via organic growth and a strategic alliance with other Internet portals,’’ Woori Investment & Securities analyst Joseph Chung said.
``In the mobile area, Daum is faring well as amply demonstrated by MyPeople that has caught the attention of mobile advertisers. The company’s solid performance in the first quarter confirms such a positive outlook.’’