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Google rumored investing in Korea for Android, search

updated 12:00 pm EST, Mon November 7, 2011

Google CEO Schmidt to meet with Samsung, KT, LG

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt will be in Seoul this week to meet with executives from South Korea's leading telecom and personal electronics companies. According to a source at The Korean Times, Schmidt will announce a number of significant investments in Korea, including a possible local Internet Data Center. Until recently, Google has struggled to establish itself in the market against Korean search companies Naver and Daum.

Thanks to the growing popularity of Android smartphones and tablets, Google has seen a rapid increase in its customer base. One estimate puts the number of Android-powered smartphones in Korea at 20 million. One rumor has Google buying Daum to gain an even bigger share of the Korean search market.

With Android emerging as a serious presence in the consumer smartphone segment, Google has also become a more important partner to Korean technology companies such as Samsung and LG and mobile-phone carriers SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus.

Schmidt will meet with the head of the Korea Communications Commission, which regulates broadcasting and telecommunications, as well as KT Chairman Lee Suk-chae, SK Telecom CEO Ha Sung-min, LG Uplus Vice Chairman Lee Sang-chul, Samsung Electronics CEO Choi Gee-sung and LG Electronics chief executive Koo Bon-joon.

KT is thought to want Google's assistance with cloud-computing systems. LG Electronics and LG Uplus want to look at Google's mobile payment technology.

Samsung may be asking for assurances that Google will help the company in its patent disputes with Apple. Samsung may also want greater collaboration to develop its set-top boxes, which have tentatively been named "Google TV."

Google established a Korean office in 2004, but to date has not made any major investments in the market. Google Korea declined to comment on any of the rumors. A company official stated that the company's investment will be "large and substantial," but did not give any specifics. [via The Korea Times]

by MacNN Staff



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