Koreans use smartphones for over 3 hours daily

2014_12_smartphone_usageIn the country with the highest smartphone penetration rate in the world, people’s daily routines, involving shopping, banking, or surfing the web, are becoming dependent on the technology at a fast pace, according to a report released Tuesday.

Korean smartphone users were on their device for an average of three hours and 39 minutes per day in September, almost twice as long as two years ago, according to a study conducted over the past five years and released Tuesday by Digieco, KT’s economic and business research institute. The time counted excludes voice calls. Of the three hours and 39 minutes per day, 85 percent was spent on apps while 15 percent was used to browse the Internet.

The comprehensive survey of Koreans’ digital life details usage time, digital content consumption and users’ evolving phone habits such as the growing inclination to keep their smartphone nearby.

For full article, see Joongang Daily.

Chips still top Korean export item

2014_12_chipexportThe semiconductor business is now Korea’s top export earner. Through November, the nation’s major semiconductor makers including Samsung and SK pulled in about $56.8 billion in revenues, the largest ever and about 10.9 percent of the nation’s total exports for the period. There are more than two weeks remaining in 2014, but since oil products are the second-largest export item with total sales of $48.1 billion through November, semiconductors will be the nation’s No.1 export business for the second consecutive year. Industry insiders say total exports for the business will exceed $60 billion by the end of the year.

The semiconductor business, which began in the early 1980s, earned Korea foreign exchanges that were used as seed money to develop advanced electronics industries, including smartphones and wireless communication devices. It was the No. 1 export business for 16 years, from 1992 to 2007, but started fluctuating in 2008 due to the global finance crisis. In 2008, Korea only pulled in $32.8 billion, just 7.8 percent of the nation’s total exports, and chips ranked sixth in export earnings. Shipbuilding was the best export that year ($43.1 billion), followed by oil products, machinery, wireless communication devices, cars and semiconductors.

For full article, see Joongang Daily.

Smartphone battery sharing service hits Korea

Choi Hyuk-jae and his younger brother Hyuk-jun together run MycooN Corp., a startup that provides the world’s first smartphone battery sharing service. Through MycooN, which works with up to 70 partners such as mobile dealers in Seoul and Busan, customers can trade off drained smartphone batteries for fully charged ones. The empty batteries will then be charged and passed on to another customer. The brothers said they hope to expand into other regions across the nation.

“My goal is to make every smartphone user ― there are currently around 35 million users in Korea ― receive our services at least once a year,” said the elder Choi in an interview with The Korea Herald. “I don’t think it is such a far-fetched idea since people always want quickly charged batteries.”

The cheap price of 3,000 won per transaction is especially appealing for smartphone users, he said. Extra fees are charged for deliveries based on distance. MycooN conducts voltage tests on the recharged batteries as well as the empty batteries to make sure that they are properly working. The brothers added that initially they use only new and authorized batteries, so there is no need for customers to be concerned about malfunctioning batteries damaging their smartphones. They also spoke of how some people feel uncomfortable with the idea of sharing their batteries with complete strangers.

For full article, see Korea Herald.

Graphene smartphone to arrive soon

2014_02_graphene smart phoneSamsung Techwin and researchers from the Seoul National University co-developed touch screen smartphone with a promising new material ‘graphene’ layer. They developed smartphones based on technology for mass production of graphene, paving the way for the commercial production of graphene, analysts said.

Samsung Techwin’s Research & Development (R&D) Center and the chemistry department professor Hong Byung-hee and his researchers from Seoul National University noted Monday that they succeeded in applying touch screen made out of large-scale graphene film to Samsung’s smartphone ‘Galaxy.’ The research outcome was announced in the international academic journal in the nano field ‘ACS Nano.’

The latest research demonstrated the possibility of mass producing mobile phones using graphene, opening the way for graphene to be utilized in diverse areas including bendable displays and semiconductors.

The researchers adopted ‘Rapid Thermal CVD’ technology to produce graphene film. This technology saves time for mass production of graphene from 300 to 40 minutes, allowing for production of quality graphene with the size of 400×300㎟ at low temperatures.

For full article, see Maeil Business.

Smartphone Game Market Expected to Triple

2013_07_gamingNine of the Google Play Store’s top 10 highest-grossing apps are Kakao games. The other one is the KakaoTalk messenger app, so it is fair to say that the “Kakao Kingdom” reigns supreme. National mobile games that rake in several billions within a year of release have emerged one after another since Kakao (the provider of global mobile social platform and mobile messenger KakaoTalk) launched Kakao Game at the end of July of last year.

Over the past year, the Kakao game platform has spearheaded growth of the entire mobile game industry. Accumulated sales from Kakao games amounted to KRW 466.2 billion over the past year with KRW 348 billion in the first half of this year, up 194% from KRW 118.2 billion in the second half of last year. Kakao Game’s KRW 466.2 billion in sales over the past year even exceeded the domestic mobile game market’s 2011 total sales.

According to KOCCA (Korea Culture and Content Agency), the domestic mobile game market is projected to hit KRW 918 billion this year and KRW 1.26 trillion next year (more than a 3-fold increase from KRW 316.7 billion in 2010 when South Korea’s smartphone penetration started to take off.

For full article, see Korea IT Times.

Smartphone to be connected with analog radio

A new communication technology that enables Smartphone to be connected with general analog radios has been developed. When commercialized, all analog radio signals can be digitalized to be linked to smartphone and even to PCs.

InitialT, a local mobile solution company (represented by Lee Gyou-dong), announced on July 10 that it completed developing its own ‘Soft PTT (Soft Push-to-Talk)’ solution into the one that can communicate with analog radios. ‘Soft PTT’ is a solution embedded in Smartphone and is able to change the existing radio signals into software. Using this solution, Smartphone can be used as an analog walkie-talkie. But this solution had its own limit. It couldn’t be connected with the already widely-established analog radios or TRS (Trunked Radio System).

It was only after a technology that could support SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) used for VoIP that Soft PTT was able to be connected with the existing analog radios. Just like VoIP is linked with analog PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network), the communication between Soft PTT and analog radios has now become possible. When two different types of networks are combined, even the existing analog radios which have a limited communication range will be able to be connected to anyplace nationwide by accessing RoIP (Radio over IP). And smart systems based on the solution can be established as well.

For full article, see Korea IT Times.

Top smartphone makers consider water-cooled tech

Overheating of smartphones is increasingly becoming a problem as users worldwide stay connected longer and more frequently with high-speed fourth-generation Long Term Evolution services. In response, some of the top smartphone makers are expected to incorporate a high-precision water-cooled pipe technology into future devices, according to cooling module manufacturers.

Samsung Electronics, Apple and HTC have recently shown interest in adopting the new cooling technology for their future models. The conventional graphite and foil cooling method currently being used in smartphones fails to effectively dissipate heat generated by the device’s core parts. In May, Japanese tech corporation NEC released the first Android-based water-cooled smartphone ― Medias X06E ― with a 0.6-millimeter cooling pipe in the chip.

For full article, see Korea Herald.

Samsung Electronics to Launch into Game Business

Samsung Electronics is set to reinforce its strategy to obtain contents including games for its smartphones and smart TVs. As part of moves to strengthen its smart ecosystem in the long term, Samsung seeks to differentiate its smart devices from other brands by securing excellent multi-platform contents and apps.

Building on its hardware competitive edge, Samsung is pushing for raising the competitiveness of its software. It aims to juice up its mobile market Samsung Apps and to attain multi-platform contents that cover smart TVs and the open-source Tizen operating system.

To that end, Samsung Electronics has recently recruited software expert Kim Kyu-ho in order to give impetus to its game business. Kim Kyu-ho, who used to work for NHN and NCSOFT, will take charge of Samsung’s game business at the MSC (Media Solution Center).

For full article, see Korea IT Times.

E-book market to expand 80% in 2013: analysts

2014_04_ebookThe South Korean market for electronic books (e-books) is expected to grow 80 percent this year on the back of rising demand for services on mobile devices, local analysts said Wednesday.

According to Taurus Investment & Securities Co., the size of the local market for e-books is anticipated to reach 583 billion won ($519.8 million) in 2013, compared to 325 billion won tallied a year earlier.

Market watchers said the increase is mainly attributable to the rising number of South Koreans holding smartphones and tablet computers, while more local publishers set their sights on the e-books industry.

“The demand for e-books will continue to increase in the future due to the availability of mobile devices sized 5-inches and above, which makes electronic contents more readable,” said Kim Ji-hyo, a researcher at Taurus Investment.

For full article, see Korea Herald.

KAIST develops a low-power 60 GHz radio frequency chip for mobile devices

As the capacity of handheld devices increases to accommodate a greater number of functions, these devices have more memory, larger display screens, and the ability to play higher definition video files. If the users of mobile devices, including smartphones, tablet PCs, and notebooks, want to share or transfer data on one device with that of another device, a great deal of time and effort are needed.

As a possible method for the speedy transmission of large data, researchers are studying the adoption of gigabits per second (Gbps) wireless communications operating over the 60 gigahertz (GHz) frequency band. Some commercial approaches have been introduced for full-HD video streaming from a fixed source to a display by using the 60 GHz band. But mobile applications have not been developed yet because the 60 GHz radio frequency (RF) circuit consumes hundreds of milliwatts (mW) of DC power.

Professor Chul Soon Park from the Department of Electrical Engineering at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and his research team recently developed a low-power version of the 60 GHz radio frequency integrated circuit (RFIC). Inside the circuit are an energy-efficient modulator performing amplification as well as modulation and a sensitivity-improved receiver employing a gain boosting demodulator.

For full article, see KAIST.