SK Telecom keeps Hoppin

While I was blogging about KT's cloud computing services, rival SK Telecom was presenting its own cloud computing platform to the press, N-Screen.

The idea is to make convergence as seamless as possible for the enduser and service providers : the platform automatically recognises the device and adapts the content to it, and all DRM hassles have been taken care of in advance.

There too, your handset is as more a smartphone as a smartTV enabler. It's a Samsung device, of the now well established Galaxy S family, and it's branded Galaxy S Hoppin (among other characteristics : Android 2.2, 1 GHz CPU, 4-inch Super AMOLED display...). Subventions included, it will cost you KRW 300,000.

SKT has already been advertising massively for Hoppin, with an enduser glued to the screen in every context, even asleep. Since Hoppin is also the name of their cloud computing service, they will eventually communicate about other devices (TV, PCs, tablets, fixed phones... - note that more and more models of fixed phones feature a color screen in Korea).

N-Screen is an open platform, meaning first of all that everybody is invited to join. To prove successful, that should include, beyond endusers, more than a few content providers or handset manufacturers.

Same story for Android platforms : SK Telecom boasts about its close partnership with Google in hardware and software development (GED / Google Experience Device, Samsung Galaxy, Motorola Xoom Tablet, LG Electronics G-Slate...), and it is a clear leader at the handset level (SKT sold 83% of all Android handsets in Korea and now averages 20,000 units a day), but the operator is still struggling at the BtoBtoC level, even if developers are proposed a "T Academy" to create more apps for the "T Store".

This press conference followed the announcement of a partnership with Japan's KDDI and Softbank Mobile for NFC-based mobile payment. Smart Poster will be operational in both countries and aims for the global market. Local competitors with exotic proprietary solutions, take notice :

The aim of the trial test is to establish mutual compatibility between countries using NFC as a common international standard instead of existing local Korean or Japanese mobile financial service methods. Currently in Korea, telecommunication companies provide mobile financial services such as credit cards, public transportation, stock trading and banking using a finance-enabled USIM chip called the 'Combi Card'. While Japan's finance service utilizes a self-developed method called 'Felica' by installing a second chip, apart from the USIM, within the mobile device

NTT DoCoMo, a partner of KT, must have appreciated the ironic tribute. Some may hear some bitterness in the tone : as we often mentioned earlier, SKT has somehow abandoned its cultural and innovative leadership to Korea Telecom. It reshuffled its management and pledged to develop a "young, speedy organization", to promote "openness" and "collaboration", and to regain confidence overseas.

MelOn recently made it in Indonesia, and this partnership with Japanese MNOs is really significant, but it will take more to be recognized as a major value aggregator at the international level. Let's see how the new management takes up the challenge.

mot-bile 2011

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