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Google, Yahoo united in map services

Korea: Google (www.google.co.kr) and Yahoo (www.yahoo.co.kr) are joining hands in Web maps and local search services as they can ill-afford to allow their Korean rivals to extend their virtual duopoly into the new market. Google Korea and Yahoo! Korea announced plans to merge their key Web services over the platforms of their digital maps and other location-based services, hoping that the enriched applications would drive up traffic on both sites.

Under the agreement, Google sprinkles video clips from YouTube (kr.youtube.com) on Yahoo’s map (map.yahoo.co.kr), while Yahoo interconnects its local search service, Gugi (kr.gugi.yahoo.com), with Google’s map (www.maps.google.co.kr). The changes will be made this month and the content sharing will be extended to the international version of Yahoo’s Gugi services (global.gugi.yahoo.co.kr), the companies said.

Korea has been one of the few rare markets where Google and Yahoo have struggled to stay relevant, with Naver controlling around 75 percent of the search market and Daum gobbling up the biggest of table scraps.

“The sharing of content between us and Yahoo could mark an important first step toward an open Web environment in the Korean Internet sector and inspire innovation,” Google Korea managing director Lee Won-jin said. Google revealed the Korean version of “Google Maps” in November last year, a free location service based on interactive maps and photo imagery.

The debut of the mapping service had been delayed due to Korean export restrictions on mapping data. The problem was solved after Google eventually agreed to operate the services on a Korean server. Yahoo was the first portal here to provide photographic maps for the Web when it revamped its digital map service in 2007.