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South Korean Mobile Operators Leading VAS

With one of the most advanced wireless services and device markets in the world, the South Korean handset market is among the world's sophisticated pioneers of Value-Added Services (VAS) marketing, according to an In-Stat assessment.

All three mobile operators -- SK Telecom, Korea Telecom Freetel (KTF) and LG Telecom -- have adopted CDMA technology and have migrated to a high speed CDMA200-1X EV-DO network, the high-tech market research firm says.

"Comprehensive value-added services, including mobile banking, mobile finance transactions, mobile wallet, multimedia and location-based services, have all been introduced and are well accepted among Korean mobile users," says Jill Meyers, In-Stat analyst.

"While Korean phone makers are gaining traction in overseas markets, international handset brands are having success entering the Korean market."

I believe that much of the Asia-Pacific region continues to lead the rest of the world in advanced applications of mobile phone devices. Numerous market research studies have substantiated this belief. The ongoing leadership appears to be rooted in superior market development expertise, not technology per se.

The lesson learned: the VAS market opportunity cannot develop with strategies based upon the notion of managed scarcity of high-priced offerings. While this approach may work well for Gucci, it is essentially a "plan to fail" for mainstream mobile phone operators.

Recent research by In-Stat found the following:

- 350 phone models available in South Korea have music-playing functionality, while 159 models enable users to perform bank transactions and make payments with their phone.

- In 2006, more than 16 million mobile phones were sold in South Korea.

- Samsung was the market leader in 2006, with about 50 percent market share, followed by LG and Pantech.

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