72 Articles for 'Mobile'
- 2009/12/15 iPhone Is The Best Selling Phone in Korea (4)
- 2009/11/24 iPhone Finally in Korea! 22K Pre-order In Its First 2 Days
- 2009/11/16 Word Sketch Helps You Learn English Words More Easily (7)
- 2009/11/11 Samsung Bada is Yet Another Mobile Platform (3)
- 2009/10/01 In Korea, your cell phone doubles up as fake whiskey detector (1)
- 2009/09/15 SK Telecom App Store: No Shortage Of Criticism (1)
- 2009/08/11 Naver Japan Mobile Beta (1)
- 2009/07/28 A Glimpse into SK Telecom's App Store (3)
- 2009/06/13 LGT sees its mobile web use grow by 600% in one year (2)
- 2009/06/12 Yet again, no iPhone for Korea (18)
(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.
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.
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).
Samsung announced its new mobile platform called Bada. Bada means "Ocean" in Korean; the word can also mean "to download" (an app), so I guess branding-wise, Bada couldn't have been more aptly named, at least for Korean-speaking audience.
So what is Bada? The "About" section of Bada homepage gives an intro, which I think is unnecessarily long and yet somehow fails to get to the point. In a nutshell, Bada is Samsung's Symbian. Bada entails a new, Samsung-developed smartphone operating system, Samsung's app store, and Samsung app developer program.
So Bada joins Symbian, iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile, and Blackberry as yet another "mobile apps platform". One has to wonder why the world needs yet another "platform" when it has iPhone and Android, but after all this might not be insignificant, given Samsung's footprint in the global mobile handset market. Samsung's Q3 2009 worldwide market share was 21.0%, putting itself in a solid #2 spot and getting more and more neck-and-neck with Nokia (37.8%). Of course these are total sales and we would see a significantly different landscape if we focus only on smartphones, which Bada seems to focus on. But one can imagine the proportion of smartphones in Samsung's phone lineup will only grow, hence the higher importance of Bada. For developers though, Bada may translate into yet another platform to customize their apps to.
Mobile | 2009/10/01 16:47 | Web 2.0 Asia
Korea's Office of National Tax Services (Korean IRS, if you will) announced (link in Korean) it will roll out "fake whiskey detection service" starting from October. The plan is to attach RFID chips that contain production history data to whiskey bottles, so that anyone with a cellphone can use a plug-in scanner (which is to be stored in major bars and pubs) to see if the costly bottle of liquor he is about to order is real or bogus. National Tax Services is rolling this out to make sure they are collecting liquor taxes to the fullest. They are starting with 2 million bottles of whiskey.
From articles like this, one can incur a few things:
1. Koreans are some seriously heavy drinkers
2. Despite being the world's 11th economy, Korea apparently has fair amount of fake whiskey
3. The number of wacky things you can do with your cell phone is only increasing
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.
Naver launched mobile version of its recently-unveiled Japanese web search service. Called Naver Mobile Beta, the service claims to have features that are especially tailored for mobile users.
Naver Japan blog offers a couple of screen shots of Naver Mobile Beta. The screen shot on the left side shows Naver's top search keywords ("Trend Ranking"). Users can do normal searches through Naver search box, and at the same time they can also browse through popular search keywords ("passive search", if you will). The latter might be popular among mobile users who just want to "kill time" and see if there is anything interesting happening right now.
The screen shot on the right side shows the mobile version of Naver Matome, Naver Japan's unique service that tries to combine the best of search and user content generation. (More information on Naver Matome can be found here.) This particular Matome page shows Shibuya's best gourmet restaurants; Users can add their own content to this page via their mobile phones.
One interesting remark from Naver's blog post: Naver expects people will use mobile services while they consume content via other channels, such as TV or magazines. That sounds just about right, and the use of mobile for information search and content consumption will only grow, it looks.
These days, it almost looks like it's harder to find mobile companies that are not building their own version of app stores. SK Telecom, Korea's #1 wireless carrier, is of course no exception. Here's a short glimpse into SKT's mobile app store, still in closed beta, courtesy of this blogger.
SKT's app store is called "SKT Mobile Open Market." To use SKT Open Market, one has to download a PC application first (called SKT PC Manager). Macs are not supported as yet.
Inspired by iPhone App Store, SKT Mobile Open Market also allows users to download various types of multimedia content (full-length songs, movies, or other audio/video content) onto their phones. As this download happens over the internet, not over the air, users don't have to pay for expensive packet fees. This is a good news to many mobile users, who often have to pay $10 for packets to download a $3 mobile game.
Of course, what makes an App Store an App Store are -- apps. SKT offers 6 different categories of apps -- entertainment, news/life, education, community, LBS, and utility apps. Currently there don't seem to be overwhelming number of apps available on SKT Mobile Open Market, but one can guess the number of apps will only increase, once the app store fully opens its door.
On the other hand, there seems to be relatively richer volume of gaming content on the SKT Open Market, but as the reviewer says, all the games on the Open Market are already available on SKT mobile content site and can be downloaded wirelessly too. What will make the game download section far more interesting are large-file games that will turn high-end phones into full-fledged, Nintendo DS-fighting gaming devices.
So far, SKT's app store doesn't seem to be breaking much of new grounds. It looks more like the extension of PC application-based content download site, which has been around for quite some time. Also, another limitation seems to be that content downloading only happens through SKT PC Manager application -- no downloading via WiFi.
Mobile | 2009/06/13 10:54 | Web 2.0 Asia
So it's another evidence that the biggest road block to the wider use of mobile services is the price. LGT was clever in that it didn't promote something like $20 unlimited plan, but rather lowered the barrier of entry by introducing super cheap plan that gives fairly good data use, thereby encouraging the first-time users to try out mobile data service. As of May 2009, LGT has 18% market share in Korea, while KTF has 31%, SKT 51%.
TAG LG Telecom, LGT, Oz
In the recent WWDC 2009, Apple announced iPhone 3G S and gave the list of countries the phone will be available - Korea wasn't included in the list this time again. Korea is just about the only developed country that doesn't have an iPhone yet. When countries like Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, and Qatar are getting their iPhones soon (nothing against those countries, by the way) and yet South Korea, the world's 11th economy, isn't getting one, there's something seriously wrong there.
Including my friend Danny, Korean bloggers are not hesitating to express their disappointments over the no-iPhone news. Both SKT and KTF, the leading carriers of Korea, have been in talks with Apple to introduce iPhone in Korea, for quite a long time. But both companies seemed to have backed out a little bit now, saying they couldn't strike mutually beneficial business deals with Apple. Well, that's just a polite way of saying that Apple demanded too much. But then, given the huge success of iPhone, Apple may actually deserve to demand much. Now carriers have to admit Apple's got the upper hand in the smartphone game.
But it might actually go deeper than that. Out of fear to become "dumb bit pipes", Korean wireless carriers have been working so hard to transform themselves into digital content empires by acquiring content companies and building a tight control over the content value chain. But iPhone is all about getting out of carrier value chain: web browsing on WiFi networks or App Store downloads have nothing to do with carriers. So the fact that the carriers haven't yet fully recouped their massive content investment might be the true reason, or at least part of the reason, why Korea still doesn't have an iPhone yet.