South Korea and Broadband

Business 2.0 has a story on how the country is benefiting from the investments in broadband. Here is an excerpt about CyWorld:

Cyworld is a license to print money. The service itself is free (and available on cellphones as well as online), but to buy all the extras – like ringtones and virtual furnishings – will cost you “acorns,” the service’s virtual currency. Cyworld sells its users $300,000 in acorns every single day.

With such a proven revenue stream, Cyworld is expanding fast. It launched in China and Japan last year, and a US launch is slated for later this year.

Some might dismiss it as a Korean novelty, but all of Cyworld’s elements, individually, have been successful on these shores. And teens and twentysomethings who use social networks tend not to have much brand loyalty to one service if another offers cooler features. SK Telecom’s ace in the hole is its experience with running a social network on mobile devices.

“Every social network is going to have to have a mobile component over the next year,” predicts Jill Aldort, an analyst at Yankee Group. “It gives more stickiness to the service. There’s going to be a social networking fatigue factor – users need novelty. And Cyworld clearly has more functionality than MySpace.”

Behind the Stocks Crash

WSJ provided a background recently to the fall in share prices in emerging markets:

While emerging markets haven’t suffered such painful losses since the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis, analysts say the force behind the recent selloffs isn’t the same. At that time, developing countries succumbed to problems largely of their own making, including low foreign-currency reserves and high levels of short-term dollar debt that forced many of them to devalue their currencies. But over the past few years, most have strengthened their economies, boosted reserves, reduced foreign-currency debt, and now, with some exceptions, have more freely traded currencies.

This time around, actions outside the developing world are the primary driver behind the selloff. Most notable has been the change in the developed world’s interest-rate outlook that has damped interest in emerging-market stocks.

For export-driven economies like those in Asia, a slowdown in large consuming countries, especially the U.S., would have a direct impact on their own growth prospects.

Yahoo Answers

SearchEngineWatch writes that Yahoo Answers is emerging as competition for Wikipedia:

I think the more interesting comparison between Yahoo Answers and Wikipedia is the different approaches. Wikipedia aims to have everyone comprehensively build a corpus of knowledge in an organized fashion. Yes, disorganized in the sense that anyone can change things. But organized in that each topic gets a single page containing the contributions.

Yahoo Answers deals with one-off question answering. There’s a corpus of knowledge growing there, one that’s even organized into categories, but all the answers on a particular topic aren’t neatly put on the same page.

That’s not necessarily a disadvantage. In fact, it may be part of the reason Yahoo Answers is pulling in an audience that might never want to contribute to Wikipedia. Wikipedia, if it were a computer game, would be a strategy game where you take a long view to win a campaign or goal. Yahoo Answers is a first-person shoot-em-up. Questions appear, and as soon as one is shot down with an answer, it’s on to the next one.

Advertising Shifts

The New York Times writes about the growth in online advertising:

For now, classified advertising makes up roughly 60 to 70 percent of online advertising for newspapers, Mr. Bennett said. At the same time, Web sites like Craigslist that offer free classifieds are luring advertisers away from sites that charge to place ads.

One hope for online newspaper classifieds is the control their staffs can exercise over the content, unlike free sites like Craigslist, which are mostly managed and edited by anonymous users.

In addition to classified ads, other opportunities for growth in online advertising include interactive ads, wallpaper ads and ads with streaming video or audio.

Mobile Data

Carlo Longino writes:

The way mobile data services and content are presented to people is totally flawed. So much of it is (and always has been) based on the idea of what is it?: WAP is the web on your mobile. MMS is like SMS, but with a picture. 3G is fast data. The average consumers reaction to that: So what? Stop trying to sell people on what something is, and focus on what it can do that is, of course, if the marketers have any idea. So what if HSDPA makes data fast? What can I do with that fast data? Technology doesnt sell devices and mobile connectivity services, applications and content do.

TECH TALK: Computing for the Next Billion: Intels Billion

ZDNet reported on Intels emerging market plans:

Intel will spend more than $1 billion during the next five years to help bring computers, training and Internet connectivity to emerging nations.

Called the World Ahead program, the effort essentially expands on other programs Intel has conducted to bring computing to countries like India and China, particularly to people who live in small cities and villages. Though India has become a software powerhouse, it’s estimated that the country a year ago had only 14 PCs for every 1,000 people.

Intel will provide equipment under the program as well as teacher training.
The program will also let the company lay some of the groundwork for future sales as the markets in these nations mature. Intel, after all, entered China back in the 1980s and was able to capitalize on the growth of the tech industry in that country.

Intels World Ahead site elaborates: In the next five years, Intel plans to invest more than USD 1 billion to support this endeavor. The main five-year goals of the World Ahead Program are to extend wireless broadband PC access to the world’s next billion users while training 10 million more teachers on the use of technology in education, with the possibility of reaching another 1 billion students.

The programme was launched by Intel CEO Paul Otellini in a recent visit to India. The Hindu wrote:

Launching the programme, Mr. Otellini said the other India-centric angle, was in the very creation of the products to fuel “World Ahead”: Intel’s Bangalore-based platform definition centre one of only four worldwide has designed and developed three different computing platforms: a rugged community shared PC working off a car battery; a low cost-full feature PC with an extremely small form factor that would be available within two months from five different Indian manufacturers at prices at least 20 per cent cheaper than comparable configuration and a students’ notebook PC, the “ClassMate”, that will be manufactured by partners worldwide next year, under the company’s “Eduwise” initiative for schools.

When it came to the connectivity to reach the Indian households now untouched by computers and the Internet, Mr. Otellini saw WiMax as the way to go. “This is the best solution for low cost, high bandwidth access to telemedicine and e-learning resources”, he said. He added that the company was cooperating with over 14 WiMax trials now being carried out in India by service providers like BSNL, Tata-VSNL, Bharti, Sify and others.

Tomorrow: Microsofts FlexGo

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