It looks like TEDx Seoul videos are now up. Mine is here. Show some link/share love!
Since the video is offered in Windows Media plug-in, not in Flash media (a la YouTube), I can't take the share codes and embed them in this post. Also the audio quality is obviously less than desirable, with quite a few portions of the talk sounding broken and incomprehensible -- thanks to the wireless mic that came on and off all the time, leading to the frustrations of some speakers including myself. For a conference speaker, nothing is worse than a malfuctioning mic. About 2 paragraphs of planned talk got wiped out from my brain on stage, and those were the funniest 2 paragraphs! Sigh.
As a Korean, I definitely feel more comfortable talking in Korean, but given the subject and the global nature of the conference, I did my talk in English. Subtitles don't seem to be offered yet -- but as soon as they are up, please come back and see some TED Talks by our Korean speakers. They are as much entertaining and engaging as any other TED speakers from around the world.
Chang Kim's TEDx Seoul talk: http://tedxseoul.com/xe/5491
Disclaimer: Not tech-related
(Via Lovesera) It's holiday season! For anyone interested in visiting Korea anytime soon for whatever reason, here's a good (and free) Korea guidebook. Korea Tourism Organization published an English tour guide for Korea. You can download the pdf file from the link below. It could be a good in-flight read.
It looks KTO put the slides up on Scribd themselves, which is pretty amazing. Is Korean government finally embracing web 2.0 technologies? By the way, the organization recently had a new CEO, Lee Cham, a German-converted-to-Korean, and are moving aggressively to invite more visitors to Korea. They even hired Bae Yong Joon as an ambassador.
TAG Korea, Let's go Korea, tourism
(Via Bloter.net) According to Atlas Research Group, a mobile-focused research firm in Korea, iPhone came out as the best selling phone in Korea in the week of November 30. During that week, iPhone posted 10.2% market share of all mobile handsets (not just smartphones) sold in Korea.
The actual market share would be higher, as the figure does not include corporate bulk sales. For instance, Daum, Korea's #2 internet portal, announced to give free iPhones to all its employees. (The plan later changed to include an option to select a Samsung phone instead.)
The biggest market share loser turned out to be Samsung, which seems pretty natural given the company's high market share. Thanks to iPhone, Samsung's smartphone market share in Korea took a hit of 25.4%, and it turned out that 43.5% of those who switched to iPhone were Samsung phone users.
Just as the iPhone was a boon for AT&T (which is now taking all the blames for poor 3G coverage in the US), iPhone is helping KT, the Korean carrier for the iPhone, gain market share. The stop-loss strategy for the market-leader SK Telecom? A killer Android device, which is rumored to be similar to Motorola Droid but is better, bound for January 2010 launch.
Discaimer: Google is my current employer. This post is purely personal and therefore does not represent the company's official voice in any ways whatsoever.
Google Korea has that radically breaks out of the company's trademark scantiness. Google's Korean homepage now displays more content right up on its front page, featuring popular search keywords, most searched-for people ("who's hot"), and the directory of Google Korea's services.
What's most interesting on Google Korea's homepage is machine-produced "topical search keywords". Google looks at what topics people are most interested in, and present those topics as search keywords in the form of short headlines. (This is purely algorithmic and no human efforts are involved in the whole process.) This way, viewers are immediately drawn into the subjects and are likely to click on the headlines -- by doing which they are essentially undertaking internet search on Google. In Korea, much of internet search is done this way, meaning browsing through links and clicking on interesting ones, as opposed to entering fresh search keywords into the search box. (Not that the latter is nonexistent, though.)
Korean blogosphere seems to be torn on this "portalization" of Google Korea's homepage. Some like it, saying Koreans should give credit to Google Korea for its efforts to radically customize its global service to better suit the local needs. Others say Google Korea may lose its identity, and this catch-up game won't help Google to overcome the local incumbents.
It remains to be seen if Google Korea's move will help or hurt the company to gain more turf in this tough Korean market, but one thing is very clear: This is a very big move by Google. This new, content-rich homepage is only available in Korea -- and this is worlds apart from Google's . In a way, this shows Google is very much committed to the Korean market, even to the point where the company is willing to ditch its hallmark simpleness, something many in and out of the company has long regarded to be near impossible. Will Koreans like this move and pay more visit to Google Korea for their internet search? The jury is still very much out.
Mobile | 2009/11/24 01:15 | Web 2.0 Asia
No more "in Korea, iPhone is the next month phone" joke.
KT is launching Apple iPhone soon and has opened a pre-order site this past Sunday. For the first 2 days, KT sold 22,000 iPhones (which are to be shipped out on the 28th). With this run-rate, KT will likely sell 400K-500K iPhones within the year. The sales figures are quite promising, considering it's been only 2 days and some people might be giving it just a little bit more time to see if they can get a better deal.
Speaking of the deal, iPhone in Korea looks fairly affordable. iPhone 3G S (32GB) costs KRW 946,000 (about US$800), but with KT subsidies under a 2-year contract, the phone comes in at KRW 396,000 (approx. US$ 300), and the user can pay that amount in 24-month installments. And here are KT's iPhone monthly plans:
- i-slim (KRW 35,000 or about US$ 30 per month): 150 mins of free calls, 200 free texts, 100MB free data use
- i-light (KRW 45,000 or about US$ 40 per month): 200 mins of free calls, 300 free texts, 500MB free data use
- i-medium (KRW 65,000 or about US$ 60 per month): 400 mins of free calls, 300 free texts, 1,000MB free data use
- i-premium (KRW 95,000 or about US$ 90 per month): 800 mins of free calls, 300 free texts, 3,000MB free data use
I'm a bit bothered by the data usage cap, but then assuming that many users will resort to Wi-fi for some of the data-heavy uses, iPhone's monthly price plans also seem pretty reasonable. Besides, these plans are not too much more expensive than the current ARPU of many mobile users anyway.
Of course many bloggers and Twitter users, who have been crossing their fingers for the iPhone in Korea for such a long time, are rejoicing. On the contrary, Samsung and LG don't seem to be too much excited by the news. For example, Samsung's uneasiness is hinted by this news: Daum, Korea's #2 portal, had announced a plan to give free iPhones and free data charges for 2 years a while ago. Recently, Samsung has lobbied itself into the deal, and Daum is now giving an on its free phone program. Of course Samsung's new smartphones are no slouch and have better specs than iPhone in quite a few areas. But the talk of the town, at least for now, is clearly the iPhone.
TEDx is an extension of TED conference that are independently organized and hosted by local groups around the world. Various cities have held TEDx's, and now it's finally Seoul's turn. The inaugural TEDx Seoul will be held on Saturday, November 28, in Sinchon, Seoul (near Yonsei University). For more info, visit TEDx Seoul website.
I've been invited as a speaker (many thanks to those recommended me! Thou shall receive karma). The topic that I chose was, well, what else could it be? The Korean web. Given that TEDx Seoul is not a super geeky conference, I will keep my talk to be pretty high-level.
Here are some of the underlying thoughts for my talk, as can be found on the website:
"Ten years ago, Korea was an innovation powerhouse in the web industry -- The country was filled with entrepreneurship and was churning out some of the most interesting web services before any other countries did. But these days Korea-born innovations are hard to come by. On the contrary, some worry that Korea might be becoming "internet Galapagos", inflicted by walled gardens and lack of entrepreneurial spirits. What happened, and what should Korea do? Are there any signs of hope we can find?"
Based on this, I have put together some slides that may form the foundation of my talk (definitely far from being a final version, as you can see). Final slides will likely feature bunch of pics and images, true to TED tradition.
Now, I'd like to ask your collective intelligence to help me build my cases. My talk will be roughly organized into three parts: a) good old days of the Korean web industry, b) challenges we are facing, and c) signs of hope that we can see despite all those challenges. I will especially focus my talk on the c), namely the "signs of hope" part, because that's what matters most anyway. This is the area that I'm having most difficulty finding compelling cases too.
So anyone out there reading this post, please help me out: Let me know any interesting people, companies, ideas, or trends that you believe will help re-igniting the Korean web. I know it's a big and awfully vaguely defined question, but I'm intentionally leaving it open-ended for now so that you can give me, well, anything. Let's keep good ideas coming. Thanks in advance!
Mobile | 2009/11/16 21:45 | Web 2.0 Asia
Word Sketch is a simple yet powerful concept: Pictogram meets vocabulary builder. It allows easier vocabulary study by presenting "sketches" (pictograms) and having the student associate those pictures with the words' meaning.
At the end of the learning cycle, Word Sektch gives tests and pop quizzes as well, to make sure the student fully memorizes the word's meaning:
All this is offered on a handheld device, which is no other than a custom version of Mintpad (which I had covered in this blog). Word Sketch was smart in that it didn't choose to produce a hardware device of its own in-house, but leveraged what's already out there and customized it.
So in a nutshell, Word Sketch is the digital version of 4x6 memory cards. The good part is that the whole concept is totally extensible to other languages as well as English, as the meaning stays even if we change the language and therefore we don't have to re-draw the whole "sketches" every time. The company was founded by a former co-founder of Gamevil, a prominent mobile gaming company of Korea whose current market cap is north of KRW 100 bn (~$100M).