Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Monday, June 16, 2014

Starbucks "Siren" pre-order app debuts in Korea

Would you like to have your customized order ready when you walk into the nearest Starbucks?  Then come to Korea.   Starbucks is beta-testing a new pre-order app called "Siren Order" in the Korean market before releasing it in the U.S. and other international markets.  Those of you who live in Korea are familiar with the long lines of customers waiting to order, during the morning rush hour and at lunch time, in many Starbucks franchises here.  This phenomenon was described in The Korea Times article on the new "Siren Order."  As its article noted,"Every lunchtime, throngs of office workers flock to coffee shops in a sort of ritual. During peak time, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. , they have to wait several minutes to place their orders and then wait again to pick them up. Some people sometimes leave the queue grumbling to get back to work on time. Starbucks Coffee Korea unveiled a high-tech "solution" Thursday that could shorten the long waiting time for orders."
Incidentally, this development caught my eye partly because of a Google alert and partly because I'm working with a Korean and an American colleague on a research paper dealing with the shape (architecture) of Korea's next generation broadband networks.  In terms of how retail establishments interact with their customers, this seems to be a non-trivial innovation!   As noted by Retail TouchPoints, "Customers also can add shots of espresso, syrup, whipped cream and alter their milk preferences using a QR code that comes with the application.Customers also can add shots of espresso, syrup, whipped cream and alter their milk preferences using a QR code that comes with the application." (click on the graphic to see a full size version)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Korea's smartphone production moves overseas

Korea's exports of smartphones decreased in May as its leading manufacturers continued to shift their production overseas.  (click on the accompanying graphic to see a full size version)  As reported by The Joongang Daily, two government ministries reported that "Korean smartphone manufacturers'expansion of their overseas production lines in China and Vietnam is negatively affecting the nation's ICT exports and contributing to reduced exports of completed smartphones. The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning announced that Korea’s ICT exports recorded $14 billion in May, down 7.5 percent compared to the same period last year." Furthermore, a study released by the Korean Import-Export Bank late last month indicated that Samsung aimed to produce about 80 percent of its smartphones in Vietnam.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Holography: the future of display technology?

Interesting article in The Korea Times about Samsung competing for leadership in holography as the next generation display technology.  I'm sure not only Samsung, but the other Korean companies in the display industry are interested in holography.  A few years ago, this idea would have appealed only to science fiction fans, but it now appears to be approaching reality.  Furthermore, it is just one of the many reasons that bandwidth (a.k.a. speed) counts!
We now take Skype and other internet video conferences for granted.  If, instead of the video image on our computer or smart device, we could access a three-dimensional hologram, how many of us would not prefer this option?   For now, holograms are being used only in a theater or studio environment, but the technology is changing rapidly. (Click on the graphic to see a full size version.)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Growth of digital networks and Korea's (Samsung's?) place in it

I was thinking this morning about the rapid global spread of connected, smart devices and the dominant role of Korea's large chaebol groups in the manufacture of those devices.  Two graphics tell an important part of the story.   The first is a graphic from statista, based on data from IDC.   It shows clearly that shipments of smartphones and tablets are projected to dominate the global market, while those for desktop PCs (do you still use one?) are set to decline and portable PCs (notebooks/laptops) will only slightly increase.  In a nutshell, this projection suggests that, all other things equal, people prefer a mobile device.  Even in the office or at home, a device without all those cords and wires to connect is more convenient to use.  Since I live in Korea, it is only appropriate to note that the boundary between smart phones and tablets is blurring with the release of increasingly large, high resolution phones that are preferred by a distinct market segment.
The second graphic, published by The Economist, shows how quickly Samsung, followed by Apple, came to dominate the global market for smartphones in just four years, starting in 2010. Keep in mind that Samsung did not really enter the smartphone market until that year, having left the global smartphone market pretty much to Apple until the end of 2009, two and a half years after its introduction of the revolutionary i-Phone. There is much more to this story, but I am reminded that there is also value in short blog posts!  Suffice it to say that the landscape (or ecosystem) of our hyper connected world continues to change at a rapid rate.