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Naver’s Papago more popular than Google Translate among Koreans

South Korean tech giant Naver said Tuesday its translation service has become more popular than that of Google among South Korean users, with the number of people using Naver’s Papago app surpassing the Google Translate app by up to a million.

According to data from local market research firm App Annie, the number of monthly active users for Papago reached about 5.65 million in March, while 4.73 million people used Google Translate in Korea.

According to Naver’s statistics, also released by the firm, Papago’s MAU reached 10 million as of March, a twofold jump in a year. Naver said the gap with Google has increased since August last year, when Papago’s MAU outpaced that of Google for the first time.

(Naver Papago)
(Naver Papago)

“It means that people prefer to use Papago when they need translation for daily expressions and short words,” Naver said, explaining that mobile apps are more suitable for simple translations than complicated ones.

In terms of web-based translation for academic articles with lengthy sentences, Google still maintained an edge over Naver. App Annie statistics showed that Google Translate recorded 2.4 million monthly active users, while Papago had 1.6 million.

Naver said the Korean search engine has strengths in translation for languages with similar origins, though its number of languages for translation is not as many as those available at Google.

Citing an analysis by linguistic and interpretation experts, Naver said its translations between Korean, Japanese and Chinese results are of a better quality than those by Google. Naver declined to specify who participated in the analysis.

According to Naver, the most sought-after languages for translation are English, Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese. The company also said it would improve optical character technology for translation. The OCR is only being used for translation into Japanese.

By Yeo Jun-suk (