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Tracing the dynamic walks of Korea Game Watch

Friday, November 26th, 2010

Several events have taken place since we uploaded our last post about Korea Game Watch, our new business branch for Korean online games. The first of all is G-Star 2010, the largest game exhibition and trade show in Korea. We were there to meet some small, mid-sized game studios and foreign publishers interested in Korean games. Overall, G-Star 2010 was a big success, drawing over 280,000 visitors from all over the world – that is 40,000 people more than last year’s G-Star, a 9% increase. In addition, according to KOCCA (Korea Creative Contents Agency), a total of 166 deals were secured in this year’s show, and the total amount adds up to USD 198 million, exceeding last year’s record of USD 28 million by a large margin. Here are some photos of G-Star 2010 taken at the B2B fair.

 

A long line of booths in the B2B area; In this year’s G-Star, 316 game-related businesses participated from 22 different counties.

 

 KOCCA also opened up a booth of its own in order to promote and provide support for games from small and mid-sized studios in Korea. For your information, the booth is named “Global Game Herb Center, a Joint Information Center”

 

 

More pictures and information regarding our trip to G-Star 2010 can be found here on our Korea Game Watch site:

1)      G-Star 2010 ends in record-breaking success

2)      G-Star’s Big Fours – Blade & Soul, TERA, ArcheAge, and Diablo 3

 

 

Another big event was Korea Game Watch’s very first seminar, “Strategies for Korean Online Games Entering Europe” held on November 23rd at Seoul Partners House. The seminar was hosted in joint with ICO Partners (CEO: Thomas Bidaux), our UK-based partner consultancy that specializes in arranging European partnerships for online gaming business. The seminar invited Korea-based game studios and related business agencies to offer insights and guidelines on entering the European online game market, an untapped market for many online game developers in Korea.

 

The three-hour long seminar consisted mainly of analyses of the European market and the market’s characteristics. There were also case studies of Korean online games that became successful role models in Europe and those that failed to appeal to the European audience. Overall, the seminar ended with fruitful results and spurred up KGW’s motivation for more research and activity. Korea Game Watch also managed to receive much press attention as many game webzine reporters and newspaper journalists attended the seminar as well. Here is a link to our post on Korea Game Watch that recapitulates the seminar: Reflecting on Korea Game Watch’s very first seminar. More information on ICO Partners is also available on SlideShare: ICO Partners: Building Your Business in Europe.

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How will KMI impact the telecom industry in Korea?

Friday, September 10th, 2010

To continue with our last post and give a preview on what will be our next post, I will briefly explain how the launch of KMI consortium will impact the overall telecom landscape in Korea.

(LTE and WiBro Evolution/WiMax Evolution are now the two prospective global standards for fourth generation mobile technology)

How will the arrival of a fourth MNO affect the telecom landscape?
Regarding this, we have extracted an excerpt from one of our previous blog posts about the very first MVNO in Korea:

With KT launching its first MVNO services, which are not yet complete MVNOs themselves in that they only offer either data usage service or voice call service, the idea of a fourth MNO in Korea seems to be gradually turning into reality. Soon, mobile phone users in Korea will have more options to choose from, compared to when they had only three choices: SK Telecom, KT, or LG U+. In addition, the advent of KMI (Korea Mobile Internet), a MNO that will be based on mobile WiMAX network and one that will generate many other MVNOS there forth, is imminent as well.

Well, in other words, with more choices for consumers, no more oligarchy among three MNOs. No more unreasonable price plans or phone bills. The more MNOs or MVNOs there are, the greater the public good, the more consumer benefits. One thing to take into notice, though, is the saturated telecom market. Regarding this, the Telcos will have to find their own ways of survival out of the market congestion, whether they be an adoption of a 4G mobile technology, such as LTE, or a B2B strategy that goes beyond the present telecom service.

Their “beyond telecom” survival strategies for the saturated telecom market can be found here:

(1) Beyond telecom service: (1) SK Telecom’s IPE Initiative
(2) Beyond telecom service: (2) KT’s S.M.ART Initiative
(3) Beyond telecom service: (3) LG Telecom’s Taltongsin initiative

In our next post, we will deal with how SKT, KT, and LG U+ are propelling their own 4G mobile technology strategies against the rise of MVNOs and KMI. After all, as KMI will be utilizing the WiBro network, MVNOs generated from KMI will have an edge over the MNOs of present 3G networks in terms of data service. Thus, it’s about time that the rest three MNOs started propelling their 4G technology development. In addition, we will also take a look at the ways in which KMI should differentiate itself from other MNOs to reap success in the market, and how these changes will affect the telecom industry.

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Korea Mobile Internet, the next MNO in Korea?

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

From our analysis of keywords that led traffic to our Korean Insight website, we were able to notice an increasing demand for information about KMI. KMI is short for Korea Mobile Internet, a consortium that consists of various companies willing to invest in WiBro (aka mobile WiMax) network as next-generation mobile technology. The consortium plans on developing and establishing a nationwide WiBro network to provide mobile networking service, such as mobile broadband and mobile voice calls. Those corporations participating in the consortium will be able to utilize the network for mobile telecommunication, thus spawning forth a series of MVNOs in the near future.
In our last newsletter, we mentioned in a dramatic tone that,

“In the midst of this, the hottest news now in Korea is that the three MNOs of Korea will become four soon; Korea Mobile Internet (KMI), a MNO that will be based on WiBro (mobile WiMAX) service (instead of the current WCDMA or HSDPA system) plans to enter into the Korean telecom market next year. What is especially noteworthy is that KMI will be a joint consortium consisting of MSOs and various corporations, such as Samsung Electronics and Intel.”

Now that proximity of a month has passed from the day our last newsletter was written and sent out, a few changes have taken place to alter some minor details of KMI.

1) Previously, it was covered in veil as to who was participating in the consortium as investors. The tentative list, though, has now been disclosed to the public as KMI has officially registered applications to Korea Communications Commission (KCC) for approval of MNO business. It turns out now that Samyoung Holdings Co. has nearly 20% of the entire KMI share as an investor although recently there has been a controversy over whether Samyoung Holdings Co. will be “kicked out” from the consortium or not. Regarding the matter, we will have to wait and see how everything turns out. Indeed, the list really is tentative for now.

2) As for Samsung Electronics, they will be investing in KMI in kind as Samsung (as well as Intel) is a vendor of WiBro equipments. After all, Samsung and Intel together are currently working on WiBro Evolution, a form of 4G technology next to LTE and UMB (which Qualcomm had once been developing and given up at the end of 2008).

3) In the case of MSOs, there was a word that KCT (Korea Cable Telecom), a nationwide consortium of seven cable operators (MSOs) providing home VoIP service, was to take a share in KMI, but there isn’t any news pertaining to KCT as of now. It is probable, though, that KCT will have enough motivation to start a MNO business anytime soon, because of the continuous pressure that comes from the telecom industry’s customer “lock-ins.” LG U+, for instance, recently merged its subsidiaries, LG Dacom, LG Powercom, and LGT to provide consumers with combined telecom services at a discounted price. Olleh KT and T are similar cases. MNOs often partner up with fixed line services (for example, KTF with KT, and SKT with Hanaro Telecom, now known as SK Broadband) so that they will be able to provide FTTH broadband service and IPTV service, all the while possessing an ownership over fixed lines and transferring landline users to “070 Internet/VoIP phone” service.

The history of KMI over the last few months

2010.7.11 - KMI submits applications for approval of a new WiBro service to KCC

2010.8.4 - KCC allocates 2.5GHz for WiBro usage. (2.3GHz – 2.4GHz frequency range is already dominated by KT and SKT for WiBro service. SKT owns 2.3~2.327 GHz, and KT owns 2.331~2.3585 GHz)

In order to utilize 2.5 GHz range now allocated for WiBro service usage, KMI must apply for the frequency range within three months of the allocation notification by KCC, which will be the end of this November. In November, KCC will go through frequency usage plans submitted by various businesses willing to utilize WiBro service, including KMI consortium, and by December, KCC will complete its frequency allocations for 2.5 GHz WiBro service.

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