Korea to Pioneer Mobile 2.0 Era

By Kim Tae-gyu

A new era, dubbed Mobile 2.0, is just around the corner in Korea underpinned by the always-on wireless connection and the most sophisticated portable devices.

The LG Economic Research Institute, a think-tank affiliated with Korea’s No. 4 chaebol LG, projected on Tuesday that a full-fledged Mobile 2.0 era will start here in a couple of years.

“Mobile 2.0 means Web 2.0 with portable gadgets. In this sense, Mobile 2.0 is a genuine Web 2.0 _ people can savor Web 2.0 at any time and at any place,” said Kim Min-seok, a consultant at the LG institute.

Web 2.0, the current buzzword in the Internet industry, is defined by a set of core principles and practices such as participation, collective intelligence and richer user experiences.

In other words, ordinary people create and share content as well as consuming it under the Web 2.0 environment while they merely consumed it during the past Web 1.0 era.

For instance, the Internet is inundated with user-created content (UCC) generated by “prosumers,” the combination of producers and consumers.

“Presently, people have to work on computers in order to upload UCC including video clips or pictures taken by camcorders or digital cameras,” Kim said.

“However, they will be able to do so via camcorders or cameras on a real-time basis when connected to the Web. That is Mobile 2.0 and the era will come in 2008 or 2009 in full swing,” Kim said.

Kim projected that such a possibility will be realized first in Korea or Japan where the mobile Internet is built up before penetrating across the world.

“The prerequisites of Mobile 2.0 is seamless connection at portable terminals and affordable monthly rates. Then, Mobile 2.0 will create an entirely new dynamism,” Kim said.

“Here’s an example. People will broadcast their life through their cell phones and handsets will feature advertisements based on their owner’s location,” he said.

Obstacles Ahead

Before the widespread assumption that mobile phones will become the primary means of accessing the Internet, there are a couple of major obstacles.

One is that it will take some time before the small handheld device can guarantee always-on, inexpensive connectivity and the other is the handset’s form factor _ its display is too small and its keypad is too inconvenient.

A cheap and stable connection is expected to be probable in the not-so-distant future in developed countries but the form factor remains a big challenge.

“Over the long haul, cutting-edge technologies of flexible displays and voice-recognition applications will be sure to tackle the hitches _ flexible displays will bring large screens to handsets and voice-cognitive systems will substitute for keyboards,” Kim said.

“In the short run, however, we need other solutions. We can think of a cell phone with larger displays or ubiquitous docking stations. I am positive about the latter,” Kim said.

His idea: convenience stores, called docking stations, will sprout up where people can pop their phones into a machine with a keyboard and a bigger screen.

Samsung Electronics, the world’s third-largest handset producer, appears to have a different position on the future of cell phones in the Mobile 2.0 era.

“It is blatantly obvious that small and thin models are current fads for the cellular market. We cannot help admitting it,” Samsung Vice President Lee Kyung-ju said.

“But we think the trend will change in the years to come. Models with bigger displays will become dominant with the advent of the mobile Internet and wireless TV,” he said.

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