20050117

Neck plus ultra

Step by step, TU media is making DMB history :

  • SK Telecom launched their satellite last march but it took them almost a year to launch a preservice for early adopters - but don't blame this master of TTM for the delay : regulatory hurdles were tough (actually, SKT literally had to build their own arena to make sure the race would start before competitors were born).
  • for a week now, TU media preservice has been freely providing 3 video channels already familiar to June customers (Music with m-net, News with YTN and Drama with SBS Drama and MBC Drama) plus 6 audio channels. Ads have been running featuring a man pushing a shopping cart while his son's enjoying a show on the horizontally turned 5.5 cm screen of the Samsung SCH-B100 hanging from his father's neck. With mini mobile theaters, it's not about the audience doing some necking when the lights are out - it's about the theater itself ruining the owner's neck.
  • That's a 622 euro (850,000 W) theater and batteries are supposed to run for 150 mn of intensive usage : forget a LOTR marathon or handset subsidies (the latter forbidden by the government). And Koreans also have to invest in digital TV : already 15% own it today for a projected 48% end 2007 according to the Electronic Industries Association of Korea...* More devices (including in-car sets) will be available by may, when overall 14 video and 24 audio channels are broadcasted (the first 3 data channels are scheduled for 2005).
  • The access fees will then cost about 14.6 euros per month (20,000 wons) and SKT expects a 9.5 euro (13,000 wons) ARPU. Not too aggressive a business plan considering today's wireless internet ARPU for SKT's WI enabled handset owners (about 6 euros according to their monthly stats). SKT's partner in Japan MBCo launched their DMB service last october and claims a lousy 10,000 subscribers but they solely provided in-car devices and don't have the marketing power of Korea's leader. SKT expects 600,000 subscribers end 2005 and 5.6M end 2010. Not aggressive either : that's the equivalent of 3 and 30% of their customer base and it took much less time for them to equip 6M people with EVDO handsets.

How about cannibalization, then ? That's the big issue... but that's also the way this first mover is keeping its edge. Stephane MOT

* while we're at it : Korea remains at the top for broadband access among OECD members (24.08% equipment rate - to be compared to 15% for Canada, the distant runner-up). If you are to believe last NIDA poll, 69.3% of all Koreans already used the internet at home back in june 2003 (55% through xDSL and 9.5% through CATV), 46.3% managed more than one e-mail address (and 12.6% their own homepage - thank you Cyworld). Wireless internet usage reached 36.1% (over 83% for the 12-19 year olds), and among users 53.4% paid for premium sites and 21.2% did some m-shopping (74.5% for downloading stuff but already 14.3% for clothes, groceries or food).



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