Google Inc. announced recently that they will invest US$10 million over the next two years to build a research and development center in South Korea. There are various opinions about this news. Some analysts have expressed concerns that Google will take a significant share of the search market and decrease the value of domestic search companies within Korea. Others are worried that Google may take the best employees in the local technology market.
I personally think that Google placing a research center in Korea is a benefit for the country. Outside of Korea, the name Google is synonymous with search. In fact, to google has become a popular new verb in several different languages, specifically meaning to find something on the Internet. It offers a wide variety of truly innovative services and features that help its users look at and think about information in an entirely new way.
But the rest of the world uses Google. It is a global phenomenon. Some could even say that Google is the driving force behind globalization. The comprehensive list of services that Google provides are actually quite shocking, especially when one realizes that most of the services are free. Google provides satellite photos of the entire world, including the offices of this magazine, with their program Google Earth. Google has collected and digitized the content of thousands of books allowing any user anywhere access to a large library of printed information. Google Maps provide driving directions everywhere in the US, Europe, and Japan. Google Image and Google Video provide a wealth of multimedia content. Google Code Search provides computer programmers search reference access to the source code of millions of programming projects. Google Talk is an instant messaging program that includes voice communication. Picasa and Writely, two Google-affiliated web sites, offer online photo editing, spreadsheets, and multi-user word processing in a variety of languages. The company even offers a virus blocking and firewall protection package for personal computers. One must remember that Google offers all these services for free.
Google has been successful so far because its services are valuable assets to countless global Internet users. Google has made sure of this by establishing research centers in Britain, Israel, Norway, Japan, Switzerland, India, Russia and the Americas already. Now, the global Internet giant is coming to Korea. Instead of being worried about the negative impact of this move, Korean citizens can view this development as an embassy of the greater global Internet community coming to bring a closer mutual understanding with the Korean Internet island.