SEOUL, July 8 (Korea Bizwire) – Naver, Korea’s leading web portal, decided to discontinue its latest translation service, Chamyeo-Bonyeok Q (‘Participate, Translate Q’), after facing criticism that the new platform was very similar to an existing translation service offered by a start-up company, Flitto.
Chamyeo-Bonyeok Q was launched less than a month ago (June 17) with high expectations. The service was an extension of the company’s existing Naver Dictionary, and allowed users to ask others willing to share their linguistic expertise to help with the translation of words and sentences.
However, Flitto’s CEO stepped forward Thursday and accused the web giant of copying its translation service. Lee Jung-soo, CEO of Flitto, wrote on his Facebook page, “After using Naver’s new service for an hour, I’m starting to realize that the user interface and service process are extremely similar to our very own platform.”
“What’s more surprising is that the service was launched by the very team at Naver that is currently partnering with Flitto,” he added.
Flitto was launched in 2012, providing translation services online through ‘collective intelligence’, where users request and provide foreign language translations. The company started selling its massive translation data, which it accumulated since the launch, to Naver Dictionary in 2014, and the two have been business partners since.
Lee added, “every time we met with the Naver Dictionary team, they said that they ‘weren’t interested in community-driven translation services’,” and he criticized big companies for taking advantage of start-ups in Korea.
“There’s a culture here in which big companies look down on services provided by start-ups, and this practice is the biggest obstacle faced by domestic amateur entrepreneurs.”
Naver responded on the same day to the Flitto CEO’s remarks, saying, “we’ve had multiple community-driven services like Knowledge iN (Naver’s in-house Q&A platform), so the idea is nothing new or special.”
But after only a day, the company eventually took a step back with Naver CEO Kim Sang-heon announcing on his personal Naver blog that the Chamyeo-Bonyeok Q service would be discontinued before the end of July.
“We thought that the new service was a natural development of Naver Dictionary,” said Mr. Kim. “But we acknowledge that it also violates the promise of coexistence we made with Flitto.”
“(Naver) did later tell me that Chamyeo-Bonyeok Q had been planned for a while,” said Mr. Lee during a phone interview with Yonhap News Agency. “But as to their service’s resemblance in user interface and design to Flitto’s, they haven’t given me an answer.”
By Joseph Shin (firstname.lastname@example.org)