195 Articles for 'Web 2.0'

  1. 2007/08/31 Omnitel and the original Cyworld founder launches a new social network
  2. 2007/08/31 Litmus tries to be Korea's Y Combinator
  3. 2007/08/29 Digital Korea
  4. 2007/08/25 Orkut may be super popular in Brazil, but still Google doesn't care
  5. 2007/08/23 If Google has Checkout, Yahoo has Yahoo! Wallet
  6. 2007/08/22 Tatter and Media enables blog media network
  7. 2007/08/16 Dialpad - the company that could (and should) have been Skype (2)
  8. 2007/08/16 Industry observation: Avatar business in Japan
  9. 2007/08/04 Naver's "Blog Season 2, Episode 2"
  10. 2007/08/01 Frunn Reader - social RSS reader (2)

Omnitel and the original Cyworld founder launches a new social network

Web 2.0 | 2007/08/31 08:53 | Web 2.0 Asia
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Omnitel, a Korean mobile software and service company, launched a new social network called NPlugs, in partnership with the original founder of Cyworld (Mr Yongjun Hyung) and two other companies. Some news articles already call this new social network service "the second Cyworld" - perhaps not because of its amazing features but because of the fact the service was designed by the original founder of Cyworld.

(As in the case of Mr Hyung, you hit the jackpot once, and it becomes easier the second time, as reputations last long. M. Night Shamalan's subsequent movies after the Sixth Sense all failed but he's still regarded as the legend and there could be a long line of investors for his next film (I'm just getting though). So what are you doing these days to hit your own jackpot?)

Anyhow, NPlugs service is based on a concept called "Personal Resource Planning (PRP)". Mr Hyung has asserted that, as ERP is an essential part of an enterprise now, PRP will become a central part of a person’s life. What is “personal resource”? On today's web, it now mostly means digital content such as photo and video, but in the future "personal resource" will increasingly include more things such as call and SMS history, product purchase list and wishlist, and even the TV program watchlist and the food consumed (emitted by RFID tags in the fridge etc). And as such, keeping up with and sharing those personal resources will become increasingly important for a social network service and perhaps it's where the future of the web is heading to, according to Mr Hyung.

Obviously there's not much content available about the service as it's not open yet - there's just a "teaser" page. But the service is expected to embody the concept of PRP. There's a mention that a zyb-like feature such as uploading one's mobile phonebook and sharing multimedia files will be included in NPlugs, but for more details, we'll have to wait until the service launches officially.
TAG Cyword, NPlug, SNS

Litmus tries to be Korea's Y Combinator

Web 2.0 | 2007/08/31 08:29 | Web 2.0 Asia
Softbank Korea Media Lab, a subsidiary of Softbank Ventures headed by Bobby Ryu (my good acquaintance and a former Samsung colleague), is rolling out a startup incubation + seed investment program called Litmus.

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The four-step incubation program of Litmus

The picture above describes how Litmus startup incubation process works. When Litmus team receives a business plan, they review the b-plan thoroughly to assess potential and feasibility (hence the name Litmus); The business plans that have passed this initial stage get incubated through closed beta (yellow), open beta (purple), service open (blue), and "graduation" (red).

Litmus doesn't quite exactly have the collegerial, cool feeling of Y-combinator, but like Y-combinator it is firmly focused on early-stage startups. Softbank Ventures Korea, having raised some big venture funds, certainly have money to spend on capable startups. As far as I understand, they invest in companies outside of Korea too. If you are interested, you can send your business plan to lab at softbank dot co dot kr
TAG Litmus, softbank, Venture

Digital Korea

Web 2.0 | 2007/08/29 14:24 | Web 2.0 Asia
Well-known blogger and mobile web 2.0 evangalist Ajit Jaokar is also a founder of a publishing company Futuretext. They recently published a book about South Korea's digital revolutions - titled Digital Korea.
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Today, Ajit tells that Digital Korea is now in Amazon's best hot selling list. (Here's the .) I didn't read the book yet, but I find Amazon review quite interesting:
"In 2006 in USA 10% of music sales was digital" accourding to IFPI..."in 2006 in South Korea 57% of music sales was digital"... This kind of comparisons help illustrate just how much of a lead South Korea has been able to pull.
Obviously some of the things that we Koreans take for granted are looking very interesting to those outside of the country. I find it interesting, and also feel I should keep up the work at my blog to convey more up-to-the-minute things happening around in Korea and Japan.

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Sources like Comscore suggest Orkut isn't as bad as some might think. Even Michael Arrington, usually cynical, concedes that "Perhaps, somehow, [Orkut] is actually a social networking heavyweight."

Some people derided that Orkut is used by many drug dealers in South America. But then, if a community service sees a lot of uses by drug dealers, doesn't it mean the service is actually quite a secure and effective platform of communication? I mean, drug dealers wouldn't want to trade some sensitive information such as the next trading schedule on a crash-prone, insecure space.

As a (quoted below), it's also quite surprising that Google hasn't done much about Orkut despite the service's ridiculously huge popularity in Brazil. If what he says below is true, then one can't help but conclude Brazil clearly isn't Google's top priority.

As a Brazilian living in Silicon Valley, it is very hard for me to understand why the venture community ignored Orkut’s phenomenon for such a long time. In Brazil (and probably in India too) Orkut is more than a social network: It is a Craigslist, Facebook, MySpace, and Classmates.com ALL COMBINED in one single social network. And I’m talking about demographics and behavior, not software features.

Furthermore, Orkut as a brand is hugely popular: Just go right now (3pm PST) to g1.com.br, the largest news site in Brazil and you will see the “Orkut” word in the front page news. Even those without Internet access know Orkut — there is even a country song called “I Will Delete You From My Orkut” (!!)

And I am not even mentioning the ecosystem that was created around Orkut by third-party developers — without a official API!!

In conclusion, traffic is actually not the most surprising thing about Orkut. More importantly is the fact (ignored so far) that Orkut presents a *huge* untapped opportunity for capitalization beyond simply page views.


If Google has Checkout, Yahoo has Yahoo! Wallet

Web 2.0 | 2007/08/23 23:22 | Web 2.0 Asia
(Via Hatena) Yahoo! Japan announced it will make its online payment and transaction service, , publicly available.

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Initially the Yahoo! Wallet service will be available only to Yahoo! Shopping merchants, but the service will eventually become available to everyone.
As more and more users become "prosumers" and will engage in P2P commerce by selling stuff on their sites (blogs etc), services like Yahoo! Wallet will come in handy.
TAG Japan,

Tatter and Media enables blog media network

Web 2.0 | 2007/08/22 02:45 | Web 2.0 Asia
TNC (disclaimer: I'm co-chairing this company) launched Tatter and Media (available in Korean only for the time being), a blog media network.

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In short, it's the Federated Media of Korea. Some 40+ well-known blogs are participating in this blog media network to increase their reach and benefit from the increased ads-buying power.

A similar service in Japan can be found in the Agile Media Network.

How can Tatter and Media enable the participating bloggers to gain higher ad revenues? It's the scale of economy - the combined monthly page views across the whole blog networks are obviously much higher than those of each single blog site. As such, the "blog network" can find banner advertisers more easily and cut a better deal with those advertisers than a single blog site can.

What's up with the slightly off name "Tatter and Media"? Our company's blog software (which happens to be the most widely used server-hosted blog software in Korea with a dominating market share) has been called "Tattertools". Although we're changing the software's name to (more catchy and slightly more globally acceptable) Textcube, Tattertools is still the household name among the Korean bloggers - hence the name "Tatter and Media".

Obviously the Tatter and Media blog network does not only accept Tattertools blog software users - we're against walled gardens. But it just happens that the majority of the initially participating bloggers are Tattertools bloggers.

Again, hat tips to our crew who launched this blogger network in Korea. I'll contemplate about bringing this to Japan, but currently I'm too tied up with finishing this client project I've been doing in Tokyo for the last 5 months. We're almost finishing up the project and I'm about to start searching for the next opportunities lying ahead of us.

Dialpad - the company that could (and should) have been Skype

Web 2.0 | 2007/08/16 13:43 | Web 2.0 Asia
Mr Doyon Kim, the founder and CEO of Spotplex, was featured on a recent Found|Read blog, the site I frequent to.
I met Doyon earlier this year in Seoul, and found he follows the Wolverines as avidly as I do. He's a brilliant person, and I think he should be proud of himself as he's one of few Koreans who'd had some significant playing time in the majors ( i.e. the Valley).
His previous stints include the co-founder of Dialpad, an early-generation internet telephony company, and the co-founder of Opinity, an online reputation tracking service.
So why is Doyon Kim not as famous as people like Nicklas Zennstrom? Because Dialpad wasn't as successful as Skype.
Is the name "Dialpad" familar to some of you? Well, it certainly is to me - or any Korean who'd been around in the industry circa 1998.
Think of Dialpad as the Skype of pre-2000. Around 1998, Dialpad took the Korean market by storm. Even back then Korea was a highly wired country. Dialpad was the company that let people know they can make cheap phone calls from their internet-connected computers (although calls within Korea wasn't and isn't that costly anyway). Koreans swarmed to give Dialpad a try - just like they do with anything new.
Suddenly the headphones with a little microphone attached, which were called no other than the "Dialpad headsets", were selling by millions. Dialpad's parent company (Serome) was the charm of the Korean stock market.
And then, the company went downhill. The company wasn't making money mostly because the Dialpad service was for free (the service was supported by online ads, but this was pre-Adsense era). But I think what's also to blame is the fact that Dialpad was simply too early (low broadband penetration = poor call quality). The market simply wasn't fully ready. By the time Skype came along, many more people around the world were using the web in their everyday life. And Skype, in return for charging the customers for outbound calls to regular phones, provided a great call quality and top-notch user interface.
At some point, Dialpad got so frustrated that it tried to close a three-way merger deal between themselves, Daum, and Naver. In hindsight, the planned merger looks like a really far-fetched idea, especially the two other companies are now the Google and Yahoo of Korea.
Well, I think most of you readers won't care about Korean IT history (rightly so), but at least you can take away a lesson from Dialpad: The first doesn't win. The first is actually quite likely to die. The first to do it right always wins.
Sometimes, however, the first just hangs in there, perservering until the market becomes ready, and reaps a huge benefit. That wasn't the case with Dialpad. Which is a shame - to Dialpad, and to many (including myself) who wanted to see a globally successful Korean IT company other than Samsung and LG, the Chaebols.
Hope Doyon's third startup will turn out great.

Industry observation: Avatar business in Japan

Web 2.0 | 2007/08/16 13:42 | Web 2.0 Asia
Via 2nd Finger (Note: Link in Korean)
  • Korean online game users like to battle it out and crush the opponents; On the contrary, Japanese online game users seem to prefer logging in a lot of playing time to increase their skills or other measurable levels and then showing off the results to other users. Japanese online game users aren't into battling as much as Korean users.
  • In the US or Europe, many people put up their real pictures on their profile (and even use their real names in many cases); But in Japan, very few people disclose their true identity, such as real names (except on Mixi) and faces.
With the two reasons, Avatar-based services can be and are popular in Japan.

Naver's "Blog Season 2, Episode 2"

Web 2.0 | 2007/08/04 23:06 | Web 2.0 Asia
Naver, the undisputed king of Korean portal that's worth some $8 billion, recently (on July 27) unveiled new sets of features for its blogging service.
Note: Naver calls its new blogging service "Naver Blog Season 2" and calls each installment of new features "Episodes". This time they announced the second major update, hence the name "Episode 2."
The newly introduced features are actually quite impressive. What I liked the most was "Layout" feature which allows user to write a blog post that looks like a magazine article. Quite eye-pleasing and elegant.
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Layout feature

Also neat is various blog templates that give the user the optimal format for writing different types of posts, such as product reviews, cooking recipes, travel diaries, etc. Reminds me of structured blogging, although I'm not sure if the Naver blog templates are Microformat-compatible.

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Blog templates, reminiscent of structured blogging

Naver blog users can also easily insert metadata (e.g. images, links, purchase links etc) of objects inserted in the post. For example, if you are writing about Al Gore's new book, you can easily insert Who's Who information on Al Gore and the e-commerce link to Gore's new book onto your blog post. This is similar to what Vox offers with its one-click import of Flickr photos and Amazon book information. But on Naver, one can only import metadata from within Naver database. Naver isn't exactly well known for embracing the open internet.
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Easy import from Naver DB when writing a blog post

Episode 2 also offers other features such as "photo wall" (which allows more aesthetic display of your photos - shown below), easier video uploading, and the enhanced WYSIWYG editor.  

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So Naver has the most number of blog users in Korea with its decent free service, but Naver's blog service isn't widely known as the top choice for power bloggers who regard themselves as personal media brand and generate authentic content. In terms of such metrics as page views per blog, Naver blog is not overwhelming, compared to more professional services like Tattertools (note: I'm the co-chair of the company behind Tattertools). It's like Microsoft Live Spaces vs. Wordpress, where the latter has far higher per-blog page views. But Naver blog Season 2 Episode 2 does offer nice features which will certainly give some fresh air to the service's existing users.

Frunn Reader - social RSS reader

Web 2.0 | 2007/08/01 14:05 | Web 2.0 Asia
Doubletrack is the company behind Me2day, a Twitter-like microblogging/social presence service. (My coverage on the service is here.)
They announced a new service called Frunn Reader. Frunn comes from "Friends", "News", and "Union" and the word also happens to mean 'blue' in Korean.
Frunn Reader is in essence an RSS reader that is apparently connected to Me2day buddy list - think the RSS reader for your Twitter "following" list.

The idea is that one the primary roles of an RSS reader should be to allow you to get a stream of updates from your friends' blogs and microblogs. In this sense, I think the Frunn Reader also shares its philosophy with Google's Social Stream initiative.

Frunn Reader is in closed beta and is looking for beta testers now.
Building a lightweight web service quickly and spinning it out with a snazzy brand on it seems to be the corporate style of Doubletrack - which resembles that of Obvious (the maker of Twitter). This new (well, not so new by now) style of web service development doesn't seem to be widely spread in Japan as yet - outsourcing companies are still asking $500,000 and 6 months to build a consumer-facing web service. What do you build, a car?

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