Sunday, November 30, 2008

Another Breakthrough by Google! Book Search Class Action Settlement

In its own understated way, Google has announced another breakthrough on its Google Book Search service.  The line on the Google Book Search page reads simply
"Google has reached a groundbreaking agreement with authors and publishers."
As the author of several books and monographs, I heartily agree.  I am hoping that there are no delays in the final court approval of this class action settlement, and I look forward to having all of my books available electronically and searchable via Google's new service.  Watch this space for notification of when you'll be able to read and search Television's Window on the World , Global Television and the Politics of the Seoul Olympics , The Telecommunications Revolution in Korea  and others of my publications.  By the way, Google has reportedly digitized more than seven million books!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Android Phones in South Korea: A Breakthrough?

The Economist has a thought-provoking article in its current edition entitled "The battle for the smart-phone's seoul."  It expresses many of the thought's I've had about the mobile phone market in Korea.  I am among the many who can't wait to get their hands on an Android variation of Apple's i-Phone, so that we can carry all of the "killer applications" of the internet around in our pocket or on a belt clip. 
Rather than opening up its mobile market to the I-Phone and other innovations, South Korea chose to maintain a special WIPI software requirement.   As far as I can determine, this software requirement serves no useful purpose other than to make it more difficult for Apple or others to enter the South Korean market.   If you read the Economist's latest analysis, it implies that this nation should completely open up its mobile communications market to encourage innovation and also to help its leading exporters of handsets.  Among the main points are the following.
  • According to Informa, a market-research firm, the market for smart-phones will grow from $39 billion in 2007 to $95 billion in 2013, by which time they will make up nearly half of the handset market by value (though only 34% by volume).
  • More importantly, as handsets get smarter the nature of the industry will change. It will be less about hardware and more about software, services and content, as illustrated by the accompanying chart. This is why, for the first time, a fierce battle between operating systems for handsets has broken out.
  • It has taken two outsiders to shake things up. One is Apple, with its iPhone. As well as being a paragon of hardware and user-interface design, it comes with a flat-rate “all you can eat” data plan.
  • The other disrupter is Google, with its Android platform. It also lets users download applications from an online store, called Android Market. But it differs from the iPhone in that Android is just software, which Google makes available to handset-makers and operators.
The Economist goes on to point out that these developments have prompted the incumbents in the mobile phone industry to look for new operating system platforms as well.  The main point of all these developments for South Korea seems abundantly clear.  Both Samsung and LG are members of the Open Handset Alliance, a group of more than 30 technology and mobile companies who came together to accelerate innovation in mobile.  Their first product was Android.  Therefore, the whole world will be watching to see just how innovative the first generation of LG and Samsung Android phones will be.  If I were in charge of long-term strategy at either of these leading mobile handset manufacturers, I'd bet the bank on this one.  Take the best in design from the I-phone and your own prior models, program Android to place the "internet in your hand" and lead the way!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Broadband Convergence Update

The Joongang Daily reports that IPTV operators are "baiting subscribers with cash." With local high-speed Internet service providers using cash gifts as a marketing ploy again, experts warn that the industry faces cutthroat competition which is likely to harm subscribers. Since IPTV and Internet telephony are provided on broadband networks, Internet subscriber numbers are crucial to success. Currently, nationwide sales agencies of the country’s three major high-speed Internet service providers - KT, SK Broadband and LG Powercomm - all provide up to 200,000 won ($147) in cash or other high-value gifts such as the Nintendo Wii game console depending on the number of services people take and their subscription length. For example, SK Broadband offers 190,000 won in cash to subscribers who sign up for its triple-play service - Internet, IPTV and Internet telephony - for three years.