AdbyMe Aims to Create Nation of SNS “Mad Men”

SNS advertising is poised to hit the big time in Korea, reports today’s edaily, with Koreans fast recognizing the potential of its so-called “one-man ads.”

An ideal time, then, for the appearance of a new, streamlined ad service called AdbyMe, which promises to make it easier for Korean firms (or anyone else) to create and distribute ads via SNS, primarily Facebook, Twitter and me2day.

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Top of the Tweets: Jan 26

After a week off, the arbitrarily numbered Top of the Tweets is back with…

  • At six, it’s Jeong Ho-hi, a spokesman for the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, who says:

[blackbirdpie url=”!/baltong3/status/29024308621742081″]

I don’t know how many readers the Chosun Ilbo has, but given that there are more than 2.5 million people using Twitter in Korea, let’s have a million of them see this by RT’ing it.

The link leads to a short message written by former service staff at Hongik University, who were made redundant en masse at the beginning of this month when the contractor they worked for was replaced by a different company. (Another Tweet on this topic appeared in Top of the Tweets a couple of weeks ago.)

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North Korea: The Final Foursquare Frontier

In 2010, people checked into Foursquare from cafes, they checked in from schools, they even checked in from space.

And then, finally, someone checked in from North Korea.

According to this graphic released by the company yesterday, Foursquare saw almost 390 million check-ins last year. Most of them came from cafes or restaurants, followed by workplaces, shops and holiday destinations, with schools being the least common location.

On October 22nd, Doug Wheelock, an American astronaut, even managed to check in from the international space station, earning a “space badge” in the process. And while Wheelock remains the only person to have checked in from the cosmos, at least one person connected to Foursquare from the strange and distant planet DPRK.

Rob Pegoraro of the Washington Post said:

I’ve asked Foursquare for clarification about where that check-in occurred and am hoping it didn’t involve an underground nuclear-weapons lab.

More on this story in at Wired and Bloter.

UPDATE: The lesson is clear: Nothing says clickbait like a mention of North Korea in your headline. This post has had over 20 RT’s on Twitter (a veritable blizzard by my standards) of which the wittiest was undoubtedly this one, from @wanniemelon:

[blackbirdpie url=”!/wanniemelon/status/29822015112220673″]


Shifting Fortunes: Google and Cyworld

A couple of stories popped up on Naver search yesterday that suggest how much the ground has shifted beneath Cyworld’s feet, and the challenges it faces in regaining its mojo.

First, from edaily, comes this speculative report that Google’s recent change in CEO could have an intriguing impact on the country’s approach to Korea. Google’s relative failure in social media is widely believed to have been a key factor in the company’s recent decision to replace Eric Schmidt with Larry Page. And with Google co-founder Sergey Brin now reportedly devoting himself to fixing Google’s social strategy, the edaily piece surmises, not unreasonably, that Google’s big new SNS focus could be mobile.

Engaging in a little more interesting but unsourced speculation, the story opines that Korea would be an ideal testbed for any new mobile-focused SNS services from Google. Why? For one thing, though Google remains no more than a bit-part player among PC portals, it’s enjoyed explosive mobile growth in Korea with the increasing adoption of Android-based smartphones. For another, though Korea was something of a latecomer to the smartphone party, it’s had one of the world’s highest growth rates in iPhone sales over the last year or so. For yet another, while Korean companies still dominate the PC portal market, they are playing catchup with SNS services, particularly in the mobile sector. Assuming FB and Twitter don’t swat aside everything in their path, this means there could still be room for strong new competitors.

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Evan Williams: Twitter is Going Korean

NOTE: This article was originally posted on Seoul Space, for whom I will now be contributing from time to time. Thanks to @richardmin for arranging the invite to the press conference!

As Richard posted earlier, Evan Williams, the co-founder of Twitter, was in Seoul today giving a press conference about why “Twitter Loves Korea,” and how it plans to requite the phenomenal popularity it has enjoyed here over the last 12 months.

In what was a fairly brief speech — with even the “we love Korean food” PR schtick kept to a minimum — Williams said how delighted they’ve been with Twitter’s success in Korea, and how that success has pushed the country to the forefront of Twitter’s thoughts. Quoting a recent report from Daumsoft, Williams noted that Korea had seen a spectacular 3,400 percent jump in vernacular Tweets in the space of just one year.

Then, he said, he had some news to share.
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Top of the Tweets: Jan 13

In a week when Koreaclicks was trumpeting a big drop in Twitter use, some of the Tweets bucking that trend were:

  • At seven, “man of liberty, man of culture and man of peace” (not to mention chairman of the New Progressive Party) Roh Hoi-chan (@hcroh), who RT’ed this short message from Ho Jae-hyeon (@welovehani), a journalist with the broadcasting team at the Hankyoreh newspaper.

[blackbirdpie url=”!/hcroh/status/24269846124429312″]

The Ministry of Justice has decided to suspend anti-discrimination laws that included a provision on homosexuals. Conservative Christian organisations have won a terrible victory, but no media outlets have been reporting it. Why is that?

Continue reading “Top of the Tweets: Jan 13”

Koreans’ Smartphones and How They Use Them (Graphs)

It’s been just over a year since the iPhone heralded Year Zero in Korea’s smartphone market, and two recent surveys offer some interesting snippets on where it stands now.

First off, Bloter reports on a survey in which ROA Consulting asked almost 12,000 Koreans what their favourite and  least favourite smartphones were in 2010.

With 44 percent of the votes, the iPhone comfortably beats the Samsung Galaxy S into second place. However, the iPhone (in its 3G version) also comes in third, meaning that between them, the iPhone 3G and 4G were the preferred phones of almost 60 percent of the respondents. Somewhat suprising, at least to me, is that the Galaxy S enjoys a 5 percent edge over the iPhone 4 among women. while men are much heavier users (47 to 30 percent) of the iPhone 4. Rounding out the list are the Samsung T Omnia 2, the LG Optimus One, and the Sky Vega and Izar.

As for the least favourite, that would be:

Topping the list, with a whopping 52 percent disapproval rating, is the Samsung T Omnia 2, followed by the Samsung Galaxy S, the two phones Koreans also voted their fourth and second favourites, respectively.

Over on ZDNet, meanwhile, a joint report from the Korea Communications Commission and the Korea Information Security Agency looks at why and how Koreans are using the new objects of their techie affections.

Among its numerous findings are:

  1. When buying a smartphone, Koreans give most consideration to design and size, followed by screen size and quality, then handset price and only then, they claim, to brand.
  2. Most Koreans (28.6 percent) use their smartphones for between one and two hours a day, with 24.8 percent using them for more than three hours daily. On average, Koreans use their smartphones for an impressive 1.9 hours per day. (The graphic above gives more details.)
  3. The most common uses  for their smartphones are (most popular first): as a diary, as an alarm, to get info/web-surfing, listening to music, for storing contact info, email, games, news, watching TV or movies, weather info, and traffic information.
  4. Korean smartphone users access the internet for an average of 58 minutes per day using their handsets.
  5. They have an average of 28 apps on their phone — though they only use nine or so, and…
  6. Fully 80 percent of them complain about after-sales service, with the most common gripes relating to shortcomings with repairs and the difficulty of exchanging handsets.

A Tumble for Twitter?

Richard at Seoul Space has posted on the surprising news that page views and unique visitors to Twitter both dropped sharply at the end of December. I copied the graphs below, but be sure to check out Richard’s explanation, along with an interesting comment from Erik Cornelius, at Seoul Space itself. Like Erik and @roboseyo I’m very sceptical that Twitter has shot its bolt in Korea quite yet…

The Perils of Trusting Oppa

A hotshot young app developer, a great idea, and technology that lets you know where your loved ones are. What could possibly go wrong?

Plenty, as it turns out.

Last week, 25-year-old Mr Kim discovered the perils of being a technological pioneer when he was charged with distributing people’s locational data without their permission. Kim is the creator of the wildly popular 오빠믿지 (Oppa midji or “you trust oppa, right?”) app, which lets users keep track of  their boyfriends/girlfriends’ location via their smartphone. If that sounds icky to you, you’re not alone — despite it’s enormous popularity, it was widely dubbed “the Devil App” in Korea.

'오빠믿지' 어플

Though the newer version of Oppa Midji requires both parties to give their express permission, for the first two days of its operation (according to this article), no such safeguard existed. This was apparently sufficient time for thousands of users to unwittingly be offering their locational details to anyone else who had downloaded the app.

Kim, who was one of eight people from four companies charged with similar offences, put it down to a simple mistake.

I saw foreign companies operating location-based services here without a hitch so I just started one up. But even though I wasn’t aware of it, I did wrong and I regret it.

Netizen responses to Kim’s arrest have varied widely. While some were distinctly uneasy with such an intrusive app, and others pointed out how short-sighted it was not to have checked the relevant regulations in advance, many saw the incident as having a potentially chilling effect on developers. “Developing software in Korea is scary,” thundered one.  “How can we expect to produce our own Steve Jobs?”

The facts in all this are somewhat murky. If it was a genuine mistake for all of two days, then you could perhaps out it down to simple inexperience. On the other hand,  I’ve heard from a couple of Korean friends that not only did the original Oppa Midji not require permission from the person being followed, it continued to transmit his/her location even when the app was switched off — making it a far more serious breach of privacy. If anyone knows the exact turn of events, I’d be very interested to hear them…

Top of the Tweets: Jan 6

At long, long last, here’s the second edition of what’s keeping Korea’s Twitterians atwitter this week:

  • At five, it’s Twitter’s queen of the airwaves Kim Juha (@kimjuha), with this, itself an RT from one @Ledlip:

[blackbirdpie url=”!/kimjuha/status/21750232249270272″]

The link directs to the Korean website for Big Issue magazine, which residents here may have noticed has been on sale in Seoul since mid-2010. Apparently, the unfortunate fellow in the picture, a Big Issue vendor, has been diagnosed with a brain tumour, so Kim is urging her followers to donate to a fund to cover his medical expenses. This kind of Tweet charity is seemingly a growing trend on Twitter, with celebrities like Kim able to generate considerable funding with their online support.

  • At four, the Dokdo hot potato lands on Twitter, with this contentious question from prominent leftie journalist Go Jae-yeol (@dogsul):

[blackbirdpie url=”!/dogsul/status/21060854166331392″]

How, he asks, do we explain to foreigners why it’s “The East Sea,” not “The Sea of Japan”? In coming to a conclusion, Go says, he worked himself into a headache. Should you be of a mind to join him, feel free to follow the link.

  • At three, it’s indie singer/songwriter jbell1 (@psychefool), a man I must confess I’d never heard of until coming across his highly popular Twitter account. Referring to an issue I’ve covered elsewhere, and that has generated tremendous public sympathy, jbell1 invites his followers to attend a series of tribute concerts to the recently deceased indie musician Lee Jin-won.

[blackbirdpie url=”!/psychefool/status/21569179849064448″]

The concerts take place on the 27th of this month, and will see more than 90 groups perform across 23 venues in Hongdae. The tickets are 10,000 won. I’m not sure if there’s more info anywhere in English, but you can find more about it in Korean here.

  • At two, we have @kimseongjoo, a popular techie guy, with some advice on how to get Korean public holidays registered on your iPhone:

[blackbirdpie url=”!/kimseongjoo/status/20785707702292480″]

To wit:

Via Safari on your iPhone, 1) Go to 2) Where it says, “Subscribe to Korean Holidays?” 3) Click on “Subscribe.” Korean public holidays will automatically register on your basic calendar.

  • And this week’s top Korean Tweet — and the second most popular in the world! — is Lee Oi-soo, with a ruminative question to ring in the New Year.

[blackbirdpie url=”!/oisoo/status/21194916755406848″]

If God gave you the ability to rid this world of one thing, what would it be?

The 4,067  (and counting) replies include: money, societal evil, idleness, body fat, God (rather ungratefully), stress and “our evil minds” — but not too many mentions of Lee Myung-bak. Happy New Year, Mr. President!

UPDATE: My blog post has been RTed by Go Jae-yeol himself!

[blackbirdpie url=”!/dogsul/status/22902400239009792″]