Research Notes

Korea is the most advanced mobile market in the world today

will the European mobile operators use the lessons learned in Korea or try to reinvent the wheel themselves?
While the European mobile operators are still wondering how they are going to get their customers to buy new MMS/Java enabled 2.5G terminals and the Americans are only just opening up their SMS market, the Korean mobile operators have quietly worked very hard the last few years and are now 3 – 5 years ahead of the rest of the world!

In Korea, mobile consumers are enjoying mobile terminals featuring:

· Up to 144 Kb download speeds into mobile phone
· Colour screens
· Korean version of MMS, Java, Virtual Machine = advanced mobile services
· Vast amounts of mobile services to choose between
· Mobile phones are preconfigured when you buy them
· Segmented subscription offerings for age, gender,¨and interests

When Strand Consult heard about what was going on in Korea a year ago, we were rather apprehensive. There was, and still is, so much marketing hype about DoCoMo’s Imode (most of it from DoCoMo themselves) and now their new 3G offering Foma, that we didn’t believe that anyone could actually be years ahead of DoCoMo – and everyone else for that matter. Since DoCoMo’s introduction of Foma, only around 80.000 mobile customers have actually signed up for their new 3G service and ARPU (average revenue pr. user) is on the decline for their Imode customers – not the best indications for the future.

With that in mind, we spent 9 months compiling our new report about the Korean mobile market “The Korean Mobile market, a window to 3G”, interviewing the mobile operators, content providers and service creators and -providers, we were more and more astounded as the actual facts and figures came on the table.

In the past year, the Korean mobile operators have managed to get 25% of their total subscriber base to buy new 2.5G mobile phones – in all 9 million subscribers! 5 million of those have chosen the even more expensive mobile phones with colour screens!

And it gets even better:

·Around 75% of the customers with the new mobile terminals, use the many advanced mobile services available on a regular basis.
·The mobile operators are not allowed to subsidise the price of mobile phones – they were all sold at full price
·The more advanced the mobile phone is – the more the customer spends on non voice traffic a month – in Korea a 2G customer spends only 1.9 Euro, a 2.5G customer 4.6 Euro and a 2.5G customer with a colour screen in their mobile 7.6 Euro a month on wireless internet services!

Our report “The Korean Mobile market, a window to 3G”, documents how the South Korean mobile operators, by focusing strongly on revenue sharing models and an abundance of new mobile opportunities, have made it much more attractive to content and service providers to develop and market quality services. This, in turn, has made it more attractive for users to subscribe to these services and to upgrade their 2G terminals. This positive chain reaction has resulted in a considerable increase in the number of both content and service providers.

Because of the 3G compatible transmission speeds, the high penetration rates and the structure of its mobile market South Korea represents the first real 3G lessons in the world and the first real taste of the 3G challenges ahead for European operators, content and services providers.
More information on the report

Contact us to get a copy of the report

Request the report