Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Imminent Mobile Internet Revolution in Korea

There is more information to add to my earlier posts on the rapidly approaching shakeup in Korea's mobile market.  A recent article in the Korea Herald highlighted some of these points.   It began by noting that only 10 percent of Korea's mobile phone users currently subscribe to a fixed rate data plan for mobile internet, compared with larger percentages in other advanced countries, as shown in the graphic (click the graphic for a full-size version).  Not surprisingly, revenues from data services in all those other countries are significantly higher than in Korea. The main reason for Korea's low percentage of data-service use, in a country where everyone carries an internet-capable 3G phone is, of course, the outrageously high rates charged for data services.  Also, smartphones make up only 1 percent of total handset sales (I must confess that I didn't realize it was this low!)   All of this while the iPhone, along with the Blackberry and other smartphones have enjoyed booming popularity around the world for the past two years or more.
In the Korea Herald Article, analysts claim that the iPhone will create a breakthrough in Korea's wireless internet services.  One is even quoted as saying that the iPhone will bring about a paradigm shift that will lead to a better telecommunications environment for consumers.  I would simply note that the paradigm shift is well underway all over the world, and it involves not only Apple's iPhone but most notably the Google-supported, open source Android platform, and of course Symbian which continues to lead the world in smart-phone market share.   As noted in my previous post, Android is predicted to move ahead of the iPhone by 2012.
A final thought:  although this post focuses on mobile internet, the continued rapid convergence of digital media means that it has ramifications for converged services in the "ubiquitous network" era that is rapidly approaching.  Mobile handsets, after all, promise to be the key device in that era, providing users with services based on increased ambient intelligence in Korea's cities, towns and even rural fishing and farming villages.

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