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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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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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