Monday, December 14, 2009

The Google Phone and AT&T: Implications for Korea

The New York Times this morning has two articles with direct implications for the evolution of the mobile communication market in South Korea.  The first of these is about the forthcoming Google Phone.   According to the report, Google plans to begin selling its own touch-screen Android phone early next year, a move that could challenge Apple's leadership in this market segment.  The company plans to use its brand power to market the phone directly to consumers over the internet.  Customers could then sign up for service with any compatible provider.  According to Google employees who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the new phone will be manufactured by Taiwan's HTC and will be thinner than Apple's iPhone with a slightly larger touch screen.  The phone has already been distributed to Google employees so that they can try it out with different service providers and applications.
Not surprisingly, analysts are reporting that Google sees mobile as its next big opportunity, and it wants more control over its destiny in this new environment.  Google wants more people using web-friendly phones in part because its advertising revenues come from this source.
Some of the implications and questions for Korea are rather obvious.

  • Which mobile service provider(s) will offer the new Google phone?
  • When will it be introduced into the Korean market?
  • At what point will Korea's wireless networks begin to feel the effects of rising data usage, as AT&T is in the United States because of the iPhone?  (this is the subject of the second NY Times article.)
  • How quickly will the use of these palm-held computers (iPhone, Google Phone, Android phones) spread in Korea?  I'm on record as predicting an extremely rapid diffusion!
  • What will the arrival of the mobile broadband, handheld internet device era mean for data rates and subscription plans here?

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