Established in 1990, Hancom created a word processing software for the Korean language called Hanword (a.k.a. Hangul, hwp). As the Korean equivalent of Microsoft Word, Hangul has gained widespread use in South Korea due to its support for special needs of the Korean written language. To this date, Hangul remains among the company’s main products. Microsoft Word and Hangul are used alongside each other in many South Korean companies and government agencies. Today, however, increasing number of private sector companies are now using MS Word exclusively.
Hangul has been frequently criticized for its inflexibility and incompatibility with other word processors (including MS Word), different operating systems, and mobile devices. Employees who have to work with both MS Word and Hangul have to take extra steps to convert files from .doc to .hwp and vice versa. Samsung Electronics’ recent decision to change its main word processor from Hangul to MS Word reflects such limitation of Hangul. However, it still maintains a monopoly in the public sector as the majority of government agencies and the military predominantly use Hangul.
Despite Samsung Electronics’ switch to MS Word, Hancom has recently reported record high performances and is now buying software companies home and abroad. Annual sales, which hovered around $38 million between 2006 and 2010, exceeded $66 million last year. Quarterly sales also hit a record of $18 million in the first quarter of this year. Hancom is hoping to reach $76 million in sales this year.
The new head of the company, Sang-Chul Kim, instigated the goal of diversifying the company’s product portfolio and turning the company into a “global all-around software developer”. Kim also aimed to expand into the mobile and cloud sectors as well as image software market.
Challenging Adobe Photoshop’s dominant position in the graphics editing software market, Hancom announced released a revamped, version 3 of EzPhoto, which positions itself as an easier to use program for editing images. With EzPhoto’s successful launching in Japan last December, Hancom plans to expand further into North America.