SK Telecom App Store: No Shortage Of Criticism

Mobile | 2009/09/15 00:54 | Web 2.0 Asia

Picture from Digital Times

Perhaps SK Telecom shouldn't have launched their newest app store, dubbed "T-Store". There had been a lot of hypes before its launch, but when the SKT T-Store finally got unveiled, people got massively disappointed, if not shocked: Users can browse apps on the web via dedicated PC application, just like on the iPhone app store, but when it comes to downloading the purchased apps, the only possible channel in most cases is via the expensive 3G network -- No download via PC application or Wifi supported (link in Korean). 

If someone not subscribed to data unlimited plan downloads a mobile game from SKT app store, he will have to pay around $4-5 for the 3G network usage alone, in addition to paying for the game itself. SKT doesn't give specific warnings on the data charges to be incurred on their app store; Also SKT is charging normal data fees on app store, not the smartphone data fees (about half the price). 

Anyone even remotely familiar with iPhone app store wouldn't even call this an app store. This is a PR disaster for SKT too, as they witness an outpouring of complaints from media reporters and bloggers. Twitter is also filled with those "What were they thinking?" twits. 

SKT says WIPI is to blame, as WIPI does not allow content download via PC application (the so-called "side loading"). WIPI is the mobile application standard that Korea had kept for a long time, until about a year ago. That might be true; SKT may not have any control over WIPI. But there are things SKT does have a far better control -- things like supporting Wifi on smartphones and lowering the expensive 3G data charges. Believe it or not, while Korea is home to some of the fiercest iPhone fighters (Samsung and LG), most smartphones sold in here do not carry Wifi functionalities altogether, presumably at the request of carriers. Interestingly enough, there is a study (link in Korean) that suggests carriers would actually lose more money if they don't support Wifi, as more 3G usage would mean even heavier investment on building the 3G infrastructure. 

TAG SK Telecom, SKT, T-Store, wipi

I'm finally breaking out of my social media silence. Coming back from business trip and holidays, I was faced with ridiculous amount of work. 

Lift Asia 2009 is taking place in beautiful Jeju Island right next week. (September 17-18) For those who don't know, Lift is Europe's TED. It's not necessarily a tech conference per se, but there is plenty of talks on technology. LIFT is more about fundamental trends and inspirations than about, say, the latest protocol for web data exchange. How does "objects that blog about their interactions with the environment", or  "a building that changes shape in real time depending on its inhabitants' behavior" sound to you? Pretty cool, ain't it?  

LIFT's main conference is held in Europe in Spring, and the Fall event is happening in Asia. The venue for the Asian event is (just like the last year) Korea's Jeju Island - the southern-most part of the country that's arguably as tranquil/tropical/exotic as any other getaway trip destinations in South East Asia. 

Jeju Island - photo from Flickr

Of course the key difference between spending your early Fall in other nice places and Jeju is that, with LIFT Asia, you can recharge your intellectual mojo while also bathing in the sun. Speakers are definitely top-notch and are bringing with themselves lots of exciting experiences and expertise. If not for LIFT, where can you possibly meet the folks who are building next-generation robots, buildings, and games in one place? 

Well, simply saying "meet" would not be sufficient, because the networking session will make everyone into friends. Jeju's secluded environment keeps all attendees and speakers away from big-city distractions and almost force them to spend the evenings together. You want some real networking? LIFT Asia is the right conference for you to attend. You can register at LIFT's official homepage

TAG Lift, LIFT Asia