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LG App store

Posted: July 15th, 2009, by admin

To be open or not to be open, that is the question for Korea’s IT industry. It is difficult to judge what right answer is. But the market is obviously shifting toward the openness. This week, however, LG App Store beta-version is launched. Its strategic direction seems against the mainstream of the market trend. In other words, LGE sticks to walled garden rather than to be an open platform.

The current deployment of the service is only available for Windows-based LG GM730 and LG KS20 handsets. The virtual marketplace features 1400 apps.

[LGE’s App Store]

[GM 730 & KS20]

The reason for why LGE takes walled garden strategy is related with the positioning of the service among LGE’s business portfolio. “Unlike other mobile phone manufacturers, LG’s Application Store is not intended to be a new or separate business model,” said Skott Ahn, CEO of LG Electronics Mobile Communication. “It’s an added-value service that comes with LG’s high-end phone and smartphone ownership.” The world’s 3rd largest handset maker still struggle as a minor player in the fast-growing smart phone category and want to keep up with competitor moves, with minimum effort. LGE is just filling the gap in its service offer, copying blindly competitors past practices and missing the shift to “openness” paradigm.

As a matter of fact, Korea’s internet market is often seen as a “walled-garden.” Korea’s leading internet companies such as Daum and Naver is quite walled. For example, significant amount of information in Korea is created and exchanged in the online communities, which are powered by Naver to Daum. But if you search information through Daum, you cannot find information available at Naver’s online community. This closed nature of internet searching platform will not increase benefits of users.

When it comes to App Store, many users are waiting for unique virtual marketplace for all windows-OS based application, without restriction of model or operator. They argue that multiplication of branded marketplaces is a way to create exclusivity. However, the wall is being cracked.

SK Telecom, Korea’s biggest mobile operator, will launch its own App Store in Korea this August on an open platform that supports Windows Mobile, Symbian, Android and Linux, regardless of the phone carrier or phone type, unlike Apple’s App Store. Moreover, Governmental agency KITA in collaboration with Dreamline (one of ISPs in Korea) work on a open platform content portal ( ).

Even if LGE is quite advancing in terms of its hardware strategy (for example, they are now entering into smart phone market using haptic user-interfaces), it is still old fashioned in terms of software strategy as in the example of walled garden App Store. Beware the wall.

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    I wonder how the number of apps has fallen since then. Three months after the launch, the LG app store only has 1295 apps with 10% free ones.

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