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Introducing “Korea Game Watch”

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

It’s been a while since I uploaded a post here on Korean Insight. I apologize for the delay on updates. Lately, I have been focusing more on my other blog, or a “portal” concentrated on Korean online game sector.

Korea Game Watch began with the idea that there is a need for media that works as a bridge between Korean game developers and foreign publishers/distributors that want to export/import games abroad. Despite the huge popularity of Korean online MMORPGs and FPS in the global game market, there has not been a “total” media service that provides quick updates on Korean game industry to foreigners. For now, we are focusing more on our role as a news outlet (the site is in its beta stage now), but we plan to gradually expand our services in the upcoming future, providing services that incorporate professional insights and information. Some of the services we are preparing to launch include market research data, in-depth market analyses, feature articles, exclusive interviews with development studios, and a comprehensive overview and breakdown of game publishers and developers in Korea. Here is an introductory word of note from Korea Game Watch.

About

Korea Game Watch captures the live images of Korean online games, their developers and the entire market for investors, companies and media overseas. This site also services professional market research and bridges business affiliation for clients outside Korea.

Since the success of Nexon’s “The Kingdom of the Wind” in 1996, Korea’s online game market has developed atop wide and solid Internet infrastructure. Thereupon, a spectrum of game genres, from MMORPG to web games, has been favored and feedbacked by a number of users. As a part of this rapid growth in game industry, a unique “e-Sports” culture has evolved, thanks to such foreign games as Starcraft. Especially, recent advancement in worldwide broadband system allows Korean online games stand unchallenged in global markets, especially in China and Japan.

Until recently, however, language barrier has blocked business entities abroad from gaining insights on Korea’s dynamic market, company information, connection with Korean developers or publishers, and communication on business promotion.

Korea Game Watch is now here to jump over those limits. Korea Game Watch will cooperate with potential partners in their market entries and participation in game conferences or events.

Some sample posts from Korea Game Watch that you might be interested in are:

The “official” boom of casual games in Korea
Asia’s Largest KGC 2010 – Games Are Alive!
2 Million Chinese Invasion … At Cross Fire
Warhammer Online fails miserably in Korea
Still Can’t Get Over the World Cup?

Please enjoy, and wait for the next update on Korean Insight!

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Com2uS vs. Gamevil, a shift of power in the mobile game market?

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

The two lifelong rivals in South Korea’s mobile game genre, Com2uS and Gamevil, are each propelling different strategies for the global mobile game market.
The difference in strategies comes from their contradictory approaches to the recent smartphone boom in Korea and worldwide. Com2uS, the number one mobile game developer in the market, seeks to target the global open market, such as Apple’s App Store; As a part of its strategy, Com2uS plans to develop and release smartphone-based games first, and then to publish them to the feature phone market.

On the other hand, Gamevil is taking a rather different path. Its main focus will be on the feature phones, as it had been in the past, and only those games that were successful in the domestic mobile market will be selected to enter the global market.


(Zenonia, one of Gamevil’s action RPG)

It seems, though, that Gamevil’s choice had been wiser. In the second quarter, Gamevil, who had always been in second place next to Com2uS, surpassed the number one runner both in sales profit and net profit by a large margin. In addition, the Guardian, UK’s leading daily newspaper, recently mentioned Gamevil in its article, Ten essential Google Android games. One of Gamevil’s magnum opuses, Zenonia was introduced in the article as a popular mobile game in the Android market, which boasts of “An amazingly rich and detailed RPG, with loads of weapons, spells and quests, and some truly lovely visuals” according to the Guardian.

Meanwhile, the founder and CEO of Com2uS, Ji Young Park was recently chosen (for the second consecutive time) as one of the top 50 female CEOs in the world by UK’s mobile content monthly magazine, ME . Here’s what ME wrote about Ji Young Park. (source: Mobile Entertainment)

“Park’s passion and ideas have made Com2uS number one in Korea, and a growing presence outside it. The company is well-known for its innovation in both casual and massively muliplayer gaming.”

Overall, an intensified competition is expected to take place among the two rivals as most of their major title games are scheduled for release in the latter half of this year. Let’s wait and see who takes the number one place in Korea’s mobile game market.

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Beyond telecom service: (3) LG Telecom’s Taltongsin initiative

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

In Korea, there are three MNOs; SKT, KT, LGT. They respectively possess 50.67%, 31.42%, and 17.91% of the telecom market (April, 2010) according to KCC (Korea Communications Commission). In this series of feature posts dealing with Korea’s three MNOs, I will provide an overview of SKT, KT, and LGT’s survival strategies in approaching Korea’s highly saturated telecom market, and how they seek to go beyond just providing telecommunication service.

LG Telecom’s Taltongsin initiative, “beyond telecommunication”

LG Telecom’s new growth initiative is called Taltongsin, meaning “Beyond Telecommunications.” This strategy aims to strengthen LGT’s core capability as a Telco and at the same time to increase the market pie by collaborating with other industries where LGT’s communication technologies will be able to offer value. It is different from a market expansion strategy in which LGT will enter into other markets to make profit and end up intensifying the market competition. LGT expects to create a new service genre by applying their ICT to the businesses of corporations and SMEs. LGT hopes to contribute to the welfare of Korean citizens through new services and technologies such as Smart Grid and u-City. Overall, LGT’s Taltongsin hopes to vitalize the ecosystem of the IT industry.

LGT’s survival strategy against SKT and KT

LG Group is Korea’s one of the biggest conglomerates operating their business mainly in electronics, telecom, chemical etc. LG Group used to have three different Telcos in its group, which were LGT, LG Dacom and LG Powercom. LGT is ranks 3rd amongst Korea’s three MNOs. LG Dacom provides local and international telephony services, while LG Powercom provides broadband services. These three Telcos in LG group were merged into one entity in January 2010 and began the new era of integrated LGT.

This month, integrated LGT changed its corporate name into LG U+. “U” means creating a new world where customers can enjoy communication technologies and services ubiquitously. “+” means offering more than the traditional telecom services to customers through its enhanced ubiquitous technology. Such a change in name also reveals LGT’s strong intention to stretch their customer base further onto enterprises such as ICT solution providers.

Korea’s telecommunication market, which had been segmented into fixed and mobile, was integrated into one in 2009. For example, KT acquired its mobile arm KTF. SKT acquired Hanaro Telecom and founded SK Broadband. LGT’s merge with LG Dacom and LG Powercom was just another follow up strategy against its bigger competitors. (LGT, as the smallest player, had always followed the market rules set by its bigger competitors.) Since last year, the B2B sector has risen as a new target market among the bigger Telcos, and thus LGT had to respond accordingly to this market change. External market environment, such as the saturated B2C market, was another factor that urged this B2B initiative, as in the other two Telco’s cases as well.

How LGT plans to carry out its Taltongsin initiative

Mr. Lee Sang-Chul, a former minister of Korea’s Ministry of Information Communications, was appointed as new CEO of the integrated LGT in January 2010. His first initiative had been “Taltongsin.” However, it has been moving on rather slowly for the last five months.

In May 2010, LGT announced its plan to raise Taltongsin funds which amounts to 15 billion KRW per year. This fund will let LGT invest in new technologies and acquire companies with high potential. Based on this, LGT will be able to maximize synergy in Taltongsin business areas. The main areas of interests include media, advertising, education, utility, healthcare, and etc.

LGT will select the target to invest in but the operation will be trusted to VC or LG Future Fund – LG group’s R&D fund. To do so, LGT established a dedicated team for this work and made an investment committee in the strategy group. They are in charge of the investment appraisal, execution and management.

What are the prospects for LGT’s Taltongsin initiative?

There are three phases in developing a B2B business; preparing, piloting, and penetrating. I believe LGT is still in the preparation stage while KT and SKT have moved further on to the penetrating and piloting stages. As described in the above, LGT’s Taltongsin initiative is yet to be fully developed. There are neither apparent trials nor achievements other than its funds.

However, the market’s expectation towards LGT’s Taltongsin initiative is quite high. LGT, as the smallest player, has often come up with very clever strategies for its survival. The company is talented at designing unique values that target specific segments of customers. With such strategies, LGT has always managed to go beyond the market order. Some examples of the company’s successful strategies include an FMS (Fixed-Mobile Substitute) service called Givun Zone, which was a strategy against KT’s fixed voice, a full browsing service with a very cheap price plan that made an impact on Korea’s mobile data services. Likewise, industry experts are expecting another surprise from LGT with its new Taltongsin strategy.

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