NHN gains strong foothold in Japan
Leading Internet portal provider NHN has a strong foothold in Japan after successfully exporting its search engine there despite numerous setbacks over the past decade.
Like rivals Daum and Nate, the company has been suffering from domestic market saturation and has pushed to diversify its business portfolio in recent years.
The rise of smartphones has been especially challenging for information technology firms like NHN, which manages Naver, to provide content specified for the visually-intensive handsets and to promote its desktop-based services.
It looks like it can take a breather, because good news is arriving from Asia, especially Korea’s neighbor to the East.
The firm led by chief executive Kim Sang-hun announced Thursday that it will provide its search engine for major Japanese retailer AEON’s online website AEON Square.
AEON is one of Japan’s major distributors with 330,000 employees and 180 affiliates do businesses in eleven countries. Within Japan, it has 14,000 shops and saw revenue of 70 trillion won last year.
The website will combine all its products and client information and open on Aug. 10. Subscribers will receive information on events, new products and electronic commerce.
As the Japanese company aims to shift its business infrastructure from offline to digital, NHN has also agreed to provide solutions in building and managing advertisement platforms.
NHN plans to provide its search engine to other businesses based in Japan
On the same day, the Seongnam-based company also stated that subscribers to its mobile messenger service Line have topped 50 million. The service launched last year and has 23 million Japanese members, according to the firm.
NHN also aims to boost income from Japan by releasing additional games, having already launched a puzzle called Birdzzle which marked 2 million downloads within a week after release in early July.
It is planning an advertisement platform for mobile phones. Web portal Naver owes its popularity to its strong advertising services that contributed to a widening gap between NHN and domestic competitors.
“NHN has laid a solid foundation to bring in revenue from Japan, which is a result of its long investment there,” said Lee Seong-ju, head of Mobile Monday’s Seoul chapter. “Japan has a good content distribution infrastructure that makes it easier for content providers like NHN to sell its wares.”
He said that because Japan is the No. 2 market in the world after the United States, it was “logical” for NHN to start its global business there, which ensures higher returns than Korea for the same amount of effort spent on other projects.
“We are focusing on achieving even more meaningful results in the Japanese market, which is an important part of NHN’s overseas business,” said NHN spokeswoman Lee Won-mi.
Lee said that NHN Japan’s mobile services such as messenger Line, search result editor Matome and news site Live Door have grown “spectacularly,”
“Our Live Door combined platform service saw 100 million page views for the month of June. Global mobile messenger Line is starting to show visible popularity outside of Japan, in places such as Russia, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong and Taiwan.”
The company plans to promote Line in the United States and mainland China in the second half of this year.