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INQ Mobile BlackBerry edition test

(viewed 2257 times)
Testing testing 123. If you stumbled upon this please feel free to help!

Does this look good in your blackberry? Do all the links work and birng up mobile optimised sites? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Microsoft to make MEAN telly for Zune

Google Health gets IBM backing

HP drops netbook Linux in blighty

Nine-year old writes iPhone applications

Solar powered MP3 player

Mobile phones are weapons of mass information

Intel to focus on mobililty at ISSCC

Windows 7 less secure than Vista

Vmware boss gets a taste of his own MS medicine

Posted by jc1000000

5th Feb 2009, 15:49   comments (4)

What can we learn from South Korea during times of recession?

Increased unemployment heavily contributed to the rise of massive
multiplayer gaming and online social networking.


The government invested heavily in telecoms networks during the
recession following the Asian economic crisis of the late 90s
gambling as part of a wider strategic shift South Korea's attention
towards the global economy and become an electronics powerhouse.

Population density meant that higher speed services could be delivered
to more people at a cheaper cost via PC Baangs (internet cafes).
However, it was not high speed connections that boosted the online
gaming market. In fact, increased unemployment heavily contributed to
the widespread adoption of massive multiplayer gaming and online
social networking. South Korea boasts a highly educated young
population with 98% of the population attending university, but with
fewer full time jobs after graduation, job sharing gave provided
enough money to spend the rest of the time at PC Baangs.

So, contrary to what other commentators have been saying about social
media losing it's appeal in economic hard times, perhaps those of us
in the online gaming and social media space should remain hopeful
during the current recession.

South Korea Startups update

Follow the links below to see the extended video interviews with
Nuriensoft, Direct Media & KT (via Intruders.tv - HD format)

South
Korea: Nurien's Unfair Advantage


South
Korea: Sean Lee & Kang-Min Ahn demo Mobile TV service.


South
Korea: Dr Sanku Jo - KT's Web 2.0 Evangelist discusses the cultural
shift required for Korea Telecomms industry.


Special mention about Zapr which
launched at the end of last year after i had left Seoul. This is a
startup launched from out of China by Korean entrepreneur Dai-Kyu Kim
(pictured). Zapr allows you to create a one to one peer to peer
network so that files can be shared quickly and easily. It's ideal for
sharing large photos and videos between your grandparents and other
family members who are not web savvy enough to use social networks or
FTP sites. All you do is create a folder and on your hard drive, add
the content you want and Zapr renders it as web page for them to
download via a link. I use it to share large photo files from my trip
with friends in Japan and Korea as it is quicker than sending them via
email and means they can use the high quality images. For a complete
review checkout webworker
daily
.

Posted by jc1000000

13th Jan 2009, 12:17   comments (4)

Invisible Web

(viewed 2388 times)
Dr Sanku Jo has an enviable job title, 'Web 2.0 Evangelist'. To be honest, it could have been invented solely for him, his enthusiasm for web 2.0 was authentic and boundless.

Dr Jo works on the KT Window Project, which is one of KT's web2.0 initiatives. An evangelical role is required in a traditional telecoms company as it represents a huge shift in terms of company philosophy, administration and business management. Now they have to turn their attention to open standards and international business and even have to rethink the very fundamentals that their business is based on – carrying data.

Dr Jo kindly allowed me a sneaky peak of one of their internal projects, SOIP, meaning Services-Over-IP. Functionality wise it was like the evolution of the landline and looked a bit like a desktop iPhone designed with the entire family in mind. You could imagine it sitting on the kitchen table. Running a standards based web apps service you could read the news, write memos or check the traffic conditions. KT also have plans for it to be in ATMs and customers having the ability to login from any public terminal.

Posted by jc1000000

14th Nov 2008, 18:14   comments (1)

More demo's from Nurien Software

(viewed 1782 times)
Demoing the incredible lifelike movements of Avatars on this virtual world platform developed by Nurien Software.


The youtube playlist for all 4 of the Nurien demonstration videos is here:

http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=850B9E6A7183C8D0

Posted by jc1000000

14th Nov 2008, 16:31   comments (0)

Nurien's Unreal Advantage

I met Andy & TK who introduced me to their company Nurien Software.
Seeing a demo of their product was pretty exciting for a variety of
reasons. For a start they were combining Korea's two great loves ?
social networking and massive multiplayer gaming. Furthermore they
recently won Nvidia's NVISION 08 award for Most Promising Emerging
company so I knew that the graphics were going to be pretty special ?
the best I had hoped for was a non-blocky second life. My videos don't
actually do justice to the phenomenal graphics. Clothes had texture,
for instance PVC trousers had that kind of matt sheen, and faces
looked amazing with amazing. In all honesty, some of the female
avatars were unnervingly attractive.

However it was the movement of the avatars that was really impressive.
The characters have 180 'bones' in their structure and their movements
were incredibly natural and lifelike. Characters could embrace, kiss
and even just had a natural sway and fidget when they were stationary.

Andy and TK took explained the concept of their platform. Combining
social networking with massive multiplayer gaming opened up a new
dimension of communication and social interaction. For example,
traditional text based chat has it's limits. Tone can't be conveyed
despite having a profound effect on meaning in most languages and the
absence of behavioural signals provided by body language meant that
online meetings were essentially raw, which anyone who's been involved
in a long distance relationship can attest to.

Their platform was inspiring ? for one, you could see the potential of
long distance 'calling' in a virtual world like this. Rather than
hanging on the end of a telephone or simply plugged into video chat
you could essentially hang out with your friends, family and loved
ones in a digital room. Sharing files became a different thing too?
those in your room would have access to whatever you'd given
permissions for so sharing could become an asynchronous experience.
For example, one could walk around and checkout pictures on their
friend's wall, whilst the other could chat in the background over
VOIP.

Unlike Second Life, Nurien's virtual world was built with widgets from
the real world in mind. Users could pull in their Youtube channels and
FlickR accounts into the 3D digital objects in their rooms. And there
was certainly room for inventiveness ? one might connect their twitter
feed to their virtual phone or pull cinema listings into a virtual pin
board.

For me, a true geek at heart, the prospect of Live Role Playing Games
was inspiring. It struck me that whereas Second Life might be about
coding fantastic digital worlds and eco-systems, the virtuality of
Nurien's platform meant that this was the place to enact fantastical
storylines and action adventures. The natural movement and physical
vocabulary of characters brought alive the potential of 'live'
Non-Player Characters. Rather than relying on pattern orientated
'artificial intelligence', now you could have 'acting' digital
characters played by other people who could bring a level of reality
and realness to totally fantastical scenarios. It reminded me of the
Holodeck in Star Trek or the 'Ractive' games in Neal Stephenson's,
cyberpunk novel, The Diamond Age. The collapse of the gaming and
movies into one huge multiplayer experience seemed possible within a
generation.

Posted by jc1000000

14th Nov 2008, 15:35   comments (2)

Seoul-full: Massive Multiplayer Gaming in South Korea

(viewed 2561 times)
One goal of my trip was to learn more about the legendary massive
multiplayer gaming business in Korea. On Thursday I was glad to be
invited to meet Jin and Peter (the youngest business people I had met
so far) who seemed happy to enlighten me. They were part of the online
business team of T3, the company behind the hugely successful niche
market multiplayer game, Audition. Starting out with 20 strong team,
T3 have been building massive multiplayer games for 6 years. Following
the massive success of Audition, which danced to the tune of revenues
exceeding $40M, T3 was acquired by Hanbitsoft in May of this year
(2008 btw) to become a company of over 700 people.

Audition is a bit like those dance mat games you see nowadays on most
consoles, but without the mat. Instead of a maximum of 2-4 players,
thousands are able to play online simultaneously. In my opinion, it
closely resembled a very fun but relatively unknown Playstation 1
title, called Bust-A-Groove
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bust_A_Groove). Players log on and join
a room, which is effectively a dance stage controlled by a leader, who
is the player that initiates the room and selects the track that
everyone dances to. Instead of using a mat, it just uses the arrow
keys ? players basically tap out the keys according to the sequence
presented and characters step in and out for solos and dance battles.

Simple stuff. So how does Audition attract 60-70K users a day and
bill so much money? Powerups and items. The more you play and the
better you dance, the more items you can buy to improve you characters
and play for special song licenses.

You'd expect a game like this to appeal to the Cyworld pre-teen girls
audience, but actually their main demographic is players aged between
18-24 with a 40/60 male/female split. So was it the same case as
Cyworld, namely, where the girls go, guys will follow? Yep, replied
Jin and Peter, but Audition wasn't just a game, it was a way for
people to meet each other.

If an equivalent game was as popular in the UK, it would most likely
be linked to Simon Cowell and some kind of reality TV format and a
host of derivative content products. However, despite the Korean
massive multiplayer gaming market being worth $2240M, more than the
rest of the world combined, TV tie-ins were surprisingly not a feature
of the industry. To Peter and Jin's knowledge, the only game that has
had a TV tie-in was Maple Street, a 'casual' MMORPG, popular with
pre-teen girls in the US. In fact, Maple Street is so popular that it
enjoys a plethora of revenue streams from derivative content, such as
guide books, game cards, pens & pencil cases. Derivative content
mobile products, such as ringtones and music, was not a general
feature either despite T3 sharing the same distribution partner for
the game as DirectMedia did for their mobile content, the popular
download portal Yedang.

Mobile social networking also was not on their radar although they had
seen many successes promoting the game via online social networks and
portals. I suggested the prospect of being able to play online, earn
experience points and then power up the character via mobile on the
train home and my hosts just laughed. Basically in Korea there's no
need. If I wanted to powerup my character that badly, I need only spit
ahead of me and I'd probably be at the door of a PC hall (PC bangs).
Fair enough ? I'd seen PC bangs on every block of Seoul.

So presumably this lack of PC gaming halls was a reason massive
multiplayer gaming had not reached the peaks of Korea in the rest of
the world? Well, yes and no, explained Jin. The US gaming market is
poised to overtake Korea within the next few years despite the fact
that most US and EU gamers prefer joypads and consoles over the
traditional mouse and keyboard PC gaming. Besides, it's not like the
west is not well connected; most families have a PC in their home.
However, in particular case with the EU, population density is low
meaning there is little incentive for ISPs to upgrade their
infrastructure to provide the kind of bandwidth needed to have a great
online gaming experience. Never have so few been able to support the
costs of so many.

Apparently growth of games tended to explode when players realised
that playing co-operatively boosted their success. Social clients,
such as VOIP and IM, were a feature of most games but part of the
success in Korea was also down to the fact that PC bangs allowed
people to form teams and participate on mass physically together,
rather than simply virtually. The growth of games and PC bangs sort of
coincided in that respect, as games got more popular, so more PC bangs
opened.

Jin and Peter told me how the massive multiplayer online gaming market
was incredibly competitive and the most popular games were produced
equally in the US as in Korea. The most popular games in Korea were
Role-playing games (RPG), Lineage, by Korean company NCsoft and World
of Warcraft by US company, Blizzard. First person shooters (FPS) were
the second most popular format with games such Sudden Attack produced
by Gamehigh (Korean) and Counterstrike (US). Real time strategy (RTS)
games were third most popular format with games such as Starcraft and
Warcraft being incredibly successful. A contact had actually suggested
that part of the appeal of these games in Korea might well be down to
the fact that you could play and smoke cigarettes at the same time.
Therefore in order to enter these crowded market of loyal players,
companies needed to discover niche segments and audiences ? for
example more casual, non violent games initially aimed at pre-teens
and light gamers, such as Audition or Kart Rider.

Most importantly, Jin and Peter stressed that the day to day running
off a massive multiplayer gaming company was to be understood as
critically different to the outputs of your average console publisher.
Success was really a matter of maintaining service levels rather than
purely gameplay innovation. Online gamers preferred responsive servers
and glitch free computing over amazing functionality. So perhaps,
gaming is not only for nerds and other outcasts who cant get
girlfriends. In fact, you only have to think of think of the national
frustration in the UK when Hasbro banned Scrabulous on Facebook, to
get a sense of how fundamentally social the experience gamers are
having is. Whether you are gunning down radioactive foes, relaying
space battle tactics or stepping in for your dance-off, no one wants
to be cut off from their friends. And as Korea has proved people will
pay good money just to make sure they can keep sharing the experience.

Posted by jc1000000

10th Nov 2008, 01:47   comments (2)

T.um exhibit at SK Tower

(viewed 2644 times)
I also had the great privelege of going to the T.um exhibition
(pronounced Tume) in the SK Tower. Designed primarily for investors
the public does not have general access to the exhibits and as a
result I was not able to take pictures. However there is a T.um exhibit video which gives
you a flavour of what is on offer. I was actually late so was only
make 30 mins of the presentation, so it's possible I missed some
stuff.

Much like Microsoft's vision of an active home, the T.um exhibit is an
hour long snapshot tour into the world of the future. To be more
specific, the world of the future of a married man with a wife and two
kids and a very hectic schedule of emergency board meetings (they
always are aren't they?) and international holiday arrangements. With
a slightly fire and forget attitude to shopping or a highly disposable
income.

I was escorted around the exhibit by, I have to say, a very pretty and
bubbly tour guide who had this digital vision sewn up. She explained
how the current communications network metaphor could be extended into
futurist type thinking; Home as base station, cars as hubs and
personal avatars as nodes.

The home was run by a glowing green flower sprite that was essentially
your digital assistant. 'She' could retrieve documents requested by
others' emails, diagnose your health and stress levels and prescribe
the ideal therapy in the form of music and idyllic wall projections,
which were incredibly life like. Every wall was 'intelligent' and able
to react and respond to types of participation. The sprite could also
contact a central mainframe and find out my flight details, check
traffic conditions and calculate how much time was left until I had to
leave for the airport to catch my plane. Having a few hours to kill
the digital assistant suggested I watch a movie in the meantime. Any
products featured in the movie could then be bought immediately at the
click of a button to be on my doormat awaiting my return from holiday.
Whether the digital assistant let the post man in was inconclusive.

I then got in my car, which resembled something out of the iRobot
film. I am a big fan of the movie so I was looking forward to
re-enacting this futuristic world. The sense of speed in the
simulation was impressive - I think this was to emphasize the fact
that in world where both the car and the road were 'intelligent' you
could presumably drive as fast as you like, Drive, though was the
wrong word as the entire process from home to airport was automated
and the car sans steering wheel.

This gave me more time to communicate and shop! Coz, that's what
everyone does in the future right? And being a forgetful man that I
am, I was able to make a last minute purchase of a present for my
beautiful wife and receive, "daddy, daddy, daddy!" type updates from
my kids. For a moment, I lamented the loss of my brooding, sarcastic
and stubborn self, until I stepped out of the vehicle and realised
nothing had changed there.

The next transition was curiously to step into my wardrobe, to
demonstrate the avatar concept and actually I found this part the most
interesting. Through radio frequencies my wardrobe was able to
determine my actual body shape under my clothes, which then got
transcribed to a digital format, namely my avatar. My assistant
explained that now, in theory, I could download the entire shop
catalogue and style myself on a digital catwalk with my avatar
strutting the runway. Presumably they intended me to download only the
mens section but I secretly thought to myself, "hey, this is the
internet, I can be whoever I want!" Shame your average department
store doesn't have a wigs section.

With avatar's as nodes in the network, the overarching concept of both
the drive and shopping mall experience was that my avatar could
communicate with other avatars in my network. Thus my bubbly assistant
provided the perennial practical use case of ubiquitous connectivity;
say I want to buy some clothes for my girlfriend, I will finally be
able to know what size she is and what clothes might suit her! Finally
technology could compensate for my missing chromosome. At this point,
I was sold. Just the day before I had a similar problem in Dongdaemun,
the fashion 'zone' of Seoul. Having come across a pretty cool top for
my missus I was totally stumped on the choice of colour (white, pink
or blue) and the undeniable fact that as a man, trying to assess
women's sizes for something as simple as a t-shirt is like Gulliver
looking through his laundry after it's shrunk in the wash. In the end,
I had to take a punt on the size and call my sister ? blue was
neutral, therefore I couldn't go wrong. However, had I really been in
the future, I'd have been able to download my girlfriends avatar,
match the size and then send a copy to my sister's avatar of the
entire set of colour choices and defer to her style pre-emninence.

The most convincing technology was mobile 'swipe zones' where you
could join a multiplayer game of football, scrabble or connect four by
swiping your phone at the hot spot. Another pretty cool thing was the
ability of these ubiquitous digital zones was they were able to detect
'edges' and digitally introject a 3D world. What this meant was that
games could be played with other virtual avatars. Fantastical and
funny creatures like Doraemon could dance around next to you and 'on'
objects in your vicinity. This hit the sweet spot. No futurism about
it ? simply unbounded imagination meets the constraints of technology.

Whilst I have a tendency to believe that futuristic visions are
inherently condemned to be anachronistic, what was telling about the
exhibit was where SK Telecoms corporate strategy really lay. Rather
than seeing the network as trucks or a series of tubes that carried
data, they were far more focussed on the idea of ubiquitous
connectivity, and consequently were more interested in being present
at every possible transaction point that made life easier and simpler.
There was a brief history of the company at the exhibit, which showed
all the different payment platforms and technology they had supported.
Calling (audio & video), mobile phone swipe payment systems, and pay
TV were some typical examples.

It was a genuine privilege to be able to view the T.um exhibit at SK
Telecom and I'd like to extend my thanks to them. It's a great
presentation for investors that does practically translate the
grandness of their vision and transcribes the depth of their thinking
and understanding of technology. T.um is closed to the public but if
you are in Seoul and in the mobile & telecoms industry go and knock on
SK Telecom's door and I;m sure they would be happy to show you
around. In the long run, I hope they take it on as a work in progress,
develop the ideas and seek to open it to the public to enjoy for what
it is ? a giant thought experiment and adventure into possibilities.

Posted by jc1000000

10th Nov 2008, 01:40   comments (0)

Korea Telcos door is a .jar?

(viewed 1576 times)
This afternoon I had lunch with Seunghoon Lee, VP of mobile internet
at SK Telecom (SKT). He demo'd a slightly differnet version of Mobile
TV which is actually picking up broadcaster channels via DMB and also gave me a pass to the T.um exhibit.

We met previously at the the Koreacomm conference where, to some
degree, he put the rest of us to shame with a more practical
understanding of the impact of 10 years of innovation in the mobile
internet looked like on a business. Whilst the rest of us discussed
the possibility of a concept such as 'Web 3.0', Seunghoon trumped us
all on what 'Mobile 3.0' actually meant to SK Telecom.

What did it mean to them? Well clearly it meant a lot more money. In
2007 their mobile internet business models had generated around 10% of
SK Telecoms entire turnover. A snip at $770M.

Seunghoon put mobile social networking, or 'Mososo', at the heart of
their growth with 150K daily users of the mobile extension of Cyworld.
All billed via flat rate data plan of $25.

Mobile Cyworld's success was largely down to the success of Cyworld's
hugely popular web portal that Seunghoon had previously worked on.
With this in mind SKT realised there was plenty of incentive to open
it's doors to the international development community, work with
international operators and drop their proprietary codebase (WIPI) in
favour of a international standards based approach. Further incentive
was provided by the impact if the iPhone on users' expectations of
high end phone GUIs (incidentally the iPhone actually has not made it
out here and yet is still causing quite a stir) and the imminent
arrival of the Android platform. Google's recent acquisition of Chang
Kim's company Tatter, added some immediacy, as it suggests that Google
has it's eye on the South Korean market.

Seunghoon's vision for SKT was to walk this road to openness. What
this means for developers and businesses is a new less restricted
access to the Korean mobile market. The transition is underway with a
roadmap in place to allow developers to build widgets and apps for SKT
users via the Windows mobile platform. If you want to jump the queue,
you'd still need to develop in WIPI, which he suspected only Chinese
companies might consider adopting. Nonetheless, SKT are encouraging
developers to build non-native apps which could up for purchase via
their native NATE portal app. So to generate success in the Korean
market may no longer be about being acquired by the umbrella Telcos
anymore. Dare I say, the door to the garden could now be ever so
slightly ajar?

Posted by jc1000000

6th Nov 2008, 17:27   comments (0)
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