RealTime IT News

Korean Portals Fight It Out With New Services

Korea's Internet portals and online information service providers are struggling for advantageous positions in the future cyber space by further broadening their service categories.

Major Internet portal sites such as Yahoo! Korea and Hanmail.Net Online are trying to expand their service domain into that of PC communications services, while online information service firms announced that they will launch Internet portal services soon.

Yahoo! Korea, the front-runner in portal site, plans to introduce such new services as free e-mail service, bulletin, chatting and other services during the second half of this year. Also, it will offer such additional services as Internet shopping malls and various content related to daily life.

Other portal sites such as Naver, one of the nation's leading search sites, are on the same track as Yahoo! by moving away from being just a search site.

In the number of registered users or daily traffic, Korea's major Internet portal sites have already outpaced major online information services. For instance, Hanmail.Net Online, Daum Communication's free e-mail service, has secured more than 1.7 million registered users, surpassing Chollian's 1.6 million subscribers.

At the same time, PC communications services announced one after another their programs to offer Internet portal service as one of their major business plans for 1999.

Industry analysts say that the boundary between local Internet portal and online information service is getting more unclear and even meaningless as the two sides compete fiercely by penetrating into each other's service territory.

"If there is a difference between portal and PC communication service in the future, it will be a fact that PC communication service is charged service and portal is free." said Youm Jin-Sub, president of Yahoo! Korea.

"It is a question whether the current brand-power of online information services will maintain its power on the Internet, too." he added.

However, it seems that most online information service providers consider the matter quite differently.

"I believe electronic commerce is the highlight of the Internet. What is most important in the electronic commerce is a trust. And, we have it." said a Chollian official.

"Our subscribers are proved in their identity, and differ completely from casual users of portal sites wandering here and there, and this is our advantage over Internet portals especially in electronic commerce."