Korea is at the forefront of mobile technology adoption and the industry pays special attention to the trends there. One example: Korean mobile carrier SK telecom is introducing google search (with advertisements) on its wireless web portal. I came across a multi-part series of interesting posts written by Kim Min-seok about future trends of mobile technologies and markets at Korea Herald, here and here. In this post I’ll present some excerpts from the sixth and seventh articles which analyze the “broad changes that Web 2.0 is bringing about in the business world.” I’d recommend reading the full articles but for those in a hurry, here are the key thoughts:

1.Mobile phone makers would like to integrate content into their own platforms instead of allowing others to control content.
2. Customers will select a service provider that has a platform which is convenient to use and enables access to diverse content and channels.
3. Hyper-customization will decide the winner.

Here are excerpts from the article (emphasis is mine):

The current consensus is that mobile terminal makers stand to gain the most from the fact that customers must first connect their devices when using content and services.

Up to now, the core elements of success of the mobile phone have been the hardware characteristics of the equipment itself, such as price, function, quality and outside design. But in Mobile 2.0, it is a means of accessing the mobile Web, not just a means of talking by telephone. This implies that design of the mobile platform embedded in the terminal is going to be important – it must enable user interfaces, UCC production and full browsing.

Due to the sharing of open operating systems and equipment middleware platforms in order to reduce costs, the possibility of functional differentiation will decrease in terms of quality and general functions. Therefore, if convenience is maximized by innovating the small screen and input device, which are regarded as the maximum constraints, terminal makers will exert a tremendous influence on the mobile service market.

Mobile phone makers, led by global No. 1 player Nokia, are trying to integrate content into their own platforms. Their strategy is to move into the content portion of the mobile value chain with convergence of digital equipment. Nokia is utilizing its powerful brand and domination to become a mobile media platform operator that provides related media content including advertisements, images and games.

In order to strengthen the competitiveness of its platform, Nokia has introduced mobile advertising platforms such as Nokia Ad Service and Nokia Advertising Connector, and developed a game platform, N-Gage.

Apple offered a service that can be used in linkage with iPhone after purchasing all the content such as TV programs and movies from iTunes using Mac. That is, media content including music, broadcasting and movies and terminal lines such as mobile phone, PC and TV are provided simultaneously. This allows us to get a glimpse into Apple’s strategy that customers can enjoy everything within the platform called Apple by providing them with total service ranging from software to hardware.

In the Mobile 2.0 age, the platform that gives value to the customer when he purchases a terminal will become one of the core purchase elements. In Korea and Japan, mobile operators such as LG Telecom and DoCoMo are considered one purchase category, and terminal makers such as LG Electronics and Sony Ericsson as another purchase category. In Europe, where the GSM system is used, terminals and mobile operators are also different purchase categories.

But in the future when terminal makers, internet portals and mobile operators all provide mobile services, the criteria for purchase will become different. The platform will become an important element, overtaking the design of the terminal or the charging system of the mobile operator. Mobile platform services offered by internet portals such as Google and Yahoo! will also compete with mobile operators and terminal makers.

Customers will select a service provider that has a platform which is convenient to use and enables access to diverse content. So they will evaluate the platforms of mobile operators, terminal makers and internet portals before they choose one they like. This is because the “prosumer” (producer-like consumer) can use open sources to create new services by combining the existing technologies. The most convenient platform, and one with the most differentiation, will therefore be the most popular.

Hyper-customization will win

What are the requirements to be a winner in Mobile 2.0, that is, making Web 2.0 mobile? To satisfy the needs of customers who are changing moment by moment and diversifying all the more, we should build a platform focused on hyper-customization.

Hyper-customization is providing necessary information and services at the right time and in the right place by capturing the needs of the moment based on customers’ individual tastes and preferences. The service provider can maximize the hit rate of the target customer, and the customer can receive only the information he needs.

The mobile phone, already a personal and constant means of communication, should be the machine that knows “me” best. The moment the mobile phone is turned on, “my number” recognizes “me.” On the internet, you have to log in at every site, but the mobile phone logs in automatically, finds out your position, and recognizes your consumption pattern. Accordingly, the service provider can know what you need at what time in what location and under what conditions.

Companies can optimize the effectiveness and efficiency of strategy implementation and marketing with a very precise target segment. Customers can learn information about themselves, subdivided by time and situation, that they themselves were not aware of in order to participate directly in developing and making more in-depth products and services.

Although device makers, portals and operators access the Mobile 2.0 market at different points, all are aiming at the same goal: absolute participation of customers.

Terminal makers are oriented to innovation of UI and terminal platform design, internet portals concentrate on securing customers’ accessibility and information processing, and mobile operators are trying to create new revenue streams with value-added services. The question is to what extent operators can they provide a platform that is more convenient and provides value to customers in a situation where closed content operation is difficult due to open access. Thus, the winners in this Mobile 2.0 era will be the players who provide a hyper-customized platform.

By Kim Min-seok

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