Mobile Web 2.0 – The Korean Perspective

Korea is at the forefront of mobile technology adoption and the industry pays special attention to the trends there. One example: Korean mobile carrier SK telecom is introducing google search (with advertisements) on its wireless web portal. I came across a multi-part series of interesting posts written by Kim Min-seok about future trends of mobile technologies and markets at Korea Herald, here and here. In this post I’ll present some excerpts from the sixth and seventh articles which analyze the “broad changes that Web 2.0 is bringing about in the business world.” I’d recommend reading the full articles but for those in a hurry, here are the key thoughts:

1.Mobile phone makers would like to integrate content into their own platforms instead of allowing others to control content.
2. Customers will select a service provider that has a platform which is convenient to use and enables access to diverse content and channels.
3. Hyper-customization will decide the winner.

Here are a few excerpts from the article (emphasis is mine):

The current consensus is that mobile terminal makers stand to gain the most from the fact that customers must first connect their devices when using content and services.

Up to now, the core elements of success of the mobile phone have been the hardware characteristics of the equipment itself, such as price, function, quality and outside design. But in Mobile 2.0, it is a means of accessing the mobile Web, not just a means of talking by telephone. This implies that design of the mobile platform embedded in the terminal is going to be important – it must enable user interfaces, UCC production and full browsing.

Due to the sharing of open operating systems and equipment middleware platforms in order to reduce costs, the possibility of functional differentiation will decrease in terms of quality and general functions. Therefore, if convenience is maximized by innovating the small screen and input device, which are regarded as the maximum constraints, terminal makers will exert a tremendous influence on the mobile service market.

In the future when terminal makers, internet portals and mobile operators all provide mobile services, the criteria for purchase will become different. The platform will become an important element, overtaking the design of the terminal or the charging system of the mobile operator. Mobile platform services offered by internet portals such as Google and Yahoo! will also compete with mobile operators and terminal makers.

Customers will select a service provider that has a platform which is convenient to use and enables access to diverse content. So they will evaluate the platforms of mobile operators, terminal makers and internet portals before they choose one they like. This is because the “prosumer” (producer-like consumer) can use open sources to create new services by combining the existing technologies. The most convenient platform, and one with the most differentiation, will therefore be the most popular.

Read more here.

Facebook comments:


  • Content wins over platform, and platform wins over hardware. Bob Price (Author: Eye for Innovation) conceived of a technology food chain to visualize how one technology “feeds” on another, usually the higher you are in the food chain, the greater your margins.

    In case of mobile platforms, I think whoever builds the best content will win. Delivery mechanisms can be commoditized, but its very difficult to do the same with content.

  • Well if you look at your delivery channel as part of your value chain, then it is economically feasible to work with a large number of downstream partners — your individual margins per partner / channel may be lower but you make it up with volumes, AND gain greater security on your financial risk.

    This model has been most successfully demonstrated by companies such as Microsoft, IBM, CISCO, TSMC.

    Within the telecom / mobile content space, this has been implemented with prorprietary content delivery networks that make it simpler and easier to deliver aggregated content.

    The examples here are Qualcomm BREW, ITunes (with iPod and soon with iPhone), and soon YouTube mobile.

    In addition to this, content aggregators become the delivery platform and earn massive margins — companies such as Handango and others charge 50% to the software developers for having done nothing (just providing them a place to sell their software).

    Great Comment btw! This is what we want more of on G&W — the type of DARK blend of coffee that hits the head.

  • Thanks for the comments Adnan and Osama. This kind of tension is more pronounced in US where carriers and handset makers are engaged in a bitter fight over customer control.

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