As the South Korean government denied a request by Google to export detailed digital-map data from the country, domestic services Naver and Kakao are now seeking to improve the competitiveness of their map services by providing functions for foreign users.
According to industry sources on November 20, Naver will offer foreigner-tailored search services as well as support for multiple languages. The company plans to advance its map services, the first step to provide convenient Internet services for foreigners who are visiting Korea during the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games Olympics.
A Naver spokesperson said, “We are planning to establish multilingual-based information system in all points on the map so that foreigners can easily search things as well as recommend themed tourism courses according to situations.” It will also open its map application programming interfaces (APIs) that support multiple languages to other firms at no charge, helping them to conveniently develop foreigner-centered services.
Kakao is considering the development of multilingual version of its Kakao Map application. A Kakao spokesperson said, “Based on years of data, experience and expertise in map technologies, we will keep advancing our services.” The company launched Kakao Map in September. It allowed users to enlarge, reduce and rotate maps and see them in in 3-D via smartphones. Kakao will also plan to apply such functions to Daum Maps for personal computers and improve functions to offer individually customized information.
Until now, industry watchers have said that there were not enough map services in South Korea, though tourism agencies and restaurant information providers have sought to provide their services for foreign tourists. In particular, the detailed map services often leads to the development of drone and autonomous vehicles so they are directly connected with success and failure in the fourth industrial revolution as well as navigation and various online-to-offline services.