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SK Telecom plans own phone platform to fight Android, iPhone

updated 11:30 am EDT, Mon October 25, 2010

SK Telecom wants own mobile platform

SK Telecom today signaled its plans to get into the mobile platform business. Company chief Jung Man-Won directly billed it as a strategy to "eventually compete against Google, Apple and Nokia" and set aside one trillion Won (about $897 million) over three years to develop the project. Aside from a platform to support third-party apps, it would expand existing services like T Map and T Store into services others could build on. The platform would be available in the US along with China and southeast Asia.

To kick off development, the company has started up an Open Innovation Center that would provide support for developers as well as reflect the company's strategy: it hopes to open up the APIs for its platform before the end of the year and should launch the platform itself as open. Individual developers and partner companies will get a lift with potential funding of up to 50 million Won ($44,849) to help get an app started.

The approach is an unusual one for carriers, which often heavily customize operating systems from other companies rather than build their own. SK Telecom has already tried going beyond stock platforms through its short-lived Helio service in the US but has never tried competing with smartphones.

In its home country, SK Telecom has been the dominant carrier with as much as half of the entire market but has also been hurt by the launch of the iPhone in the country. Apple has sold over one million iPhones through rival KT in the country and may have shaken local phone manufacturers like LG and Samsung after their conservative policies of supporting Windows Mobile and basic phones failed to catch on.

South Korea as a whole has had little success promoting self-developed operating systems, as the Bada platform used on the Samsung Wave hasn't garnered interest outside of Samsung itself.

By Electronista Staff


  1. iphonerulez

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Nov 2008


    Investing a billion dollars isn't much of an

    attack against a company such as Apple which has a $51 billion dollar cash reserve. The S. Koreans are capable people, but they really do have a mountain to climb and could take years to catch on. I'm curious to know how the iPad is doing in S. Korea and is selling well.

  1. coffeetime

    Senior User

    Joined: Nov 2006


    money, money, money

    Giving the money away for developers is one thing but trying to develop a competitive phone OS against the big guys will drain out their cash very, very fast.

  1. wrenchy

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Nov 2009


    Oh god, here we go...

    The world does not need another mobile os. Just use Android for everything and you'll be fine.

  1. Foe Hammer

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Feb 2005


    Match The Names To The Faces In The Picture!

    A. Spendy
    B. Swifty
    C. Not-So-Nifty
    D. Grumpy
    E. Stenchy
    F. Dummy
    G. Wrenchy

  1. icewing

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: May 2008


    A good way... blow a trillion Won.

  1. SierraDragon

    Mac Elite

    Joined: Mar 2004


    Most importantly, no Windows Phone 7

    The really significant point here is that a carrier is building its own OS, one more nail in the MS coffin.

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