Thursday, November 6, 2008

Mobile Services in Korea-an eyewitness report

SEOUL-As you would expect, things are a little different in Korea compared to, say, Europe...Research reports are all fine and well, but they fail to give that 'finger-on-the-pulse' feel for what is happening on the street.

So, having spent a week in Korea (and considering that this is one of the most advanced countries in terms of mobile communications) I thought I would share some brief impressions of mobile usage in the region.

Firstly, I'd like to dispel the myth that everyone uses the sort of high end LG or Samsung models widely publicised in Europe...while Koreans have a very high penetration of 3G handsets, many of the ones I saw were Anycall handsets, a Samsung local brand or Cyon (the LG local brand) .

Another thing you notice travelling on the Seoul subway, is how everyone has a mobile device of some sort, be it an MP3 player, PSP or mobile phone. And the most widely used feature on a mobile phone that I witnessed was..yes, you guessed it, TV...and not Mobile TV, but good old Terrestrial/Digital TV, whose signal is captured via a not-so-modern retractable antenna.

All of this should not make us forget that Mobile Social Networking is also huge in Korea, with the Cyworld service launched by SK Telecom boasts over 20m users and has built a profitable business model based on sale of creative digital content.

Finally, it was also noticeable how every car (and I really mean all of them, taxi or otherwise) had a GPS PND device-Seoul is a big city, so GPS offers an invaluable service to local drivers.

One bit of trivia...Samsung is actually a word in Korean and it means 3 stars.