The round-up starts this week with a possibly very significant story about what is still, just, the smallest of Korea’s top five portals.
For those who haven’t before, meet Paran. Though it has long trailed the mighty Naver, Daum, Nate and Yahoo! Korea, the last nine months, as this story in ZDNet explains, has seen a significant reversal in its fortunes.
According to Rankey, the average visitor to Paran in October spent 13 minutes, 10 seconds on the portal, compared with 8 minutes 53 seconds in January. This 53 percent jump made Paran the only portal apart from Naver to register an increase, and just 9 seconds behind its closest competitor, Yahoo Korea. Continuing the good news for Paran, page views per person rose from 119.1 in January to 128.9 in October.
First, the article attributes the success partly to Paran’s new page design, which has replaced the traditional grid format in favour of a “stack.” Users can now more easily customise their Paran homepage to show news, blogs, shopping sites or whatever else they want easy access to. Parannies(?) can put all their SNS links on their homepage, too.
A connected, but much more significant point is that Paran has tapped into the booming numbers of Koreans using mobile devices, rather than PCs, to access the web. In this, the article says, the design is no accident: It has been specifically optimised for use on mobile devices, and indeed looks just the same on a smartphone and on a PC. Per the article:
The rise in Paran’s use was heavily influenced by improving the user experience both on regular and wireless devices. They also expect to achieve a lot of synergy and increased traffic through the competitive apps they own.
If trends elsewhere in the world are anything to go by, Paran’s ascent may only just be starting. As a great recent presentation by Mary Meeker showed, the switch from PCs to mobile access is one of the most significant tech trends of our time.
And if you need convincing of how quickly these changes are happening, take a look at the extraordinary case of Japan:
In just four years, Japan’s internet use transformed from being primarily (83 percent) desktop based, to being overwhelmingly conducted on mobile devices. Given how crazily popular iPhones have become in Korea since their release last year, and how quickly Koreans seize on to technological changes, who would bet against the same thing happening here?