SK Telecom Fined For Incompatible MP3 Playing Phone

from the compatibility-as-consumer-protection dept

Over in South Korea, it appears that regulators have fined dominant mobile telco SK Telecom for crippling their music download service to only allow songs downloaded from the company’s own music store to work on their phones. It’s not entirely clear from the article if the songs were really in MP3 format, or if the reporter is simply using “MP3 music files” as shorthand for any kind of digital music file. If it really was MP3 files, then it’s hard to understand exactly what’s happening, as MP3s don’t have DRM technology. The article implies that the phone itself was set up with special DRM that would only play the MP3s from the service, and not other MP3s. However, if these aren’t MP3s and simply a different format, it’s hard to see how SKT can be fined for their lack of compatibility. They simply chose a different format — one that limited the usefulness of their phones for those who want to listen to music in other formats.


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Comments on “SK Telecom Fined For Incompatible MP3 Playing Phone”

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26 Comments
Jamie says:

Not hard to do

If they wanted to do this with unprotected MP3s, all they have to do is make it so that the there is no way to get MP3s on the phone except through their own service.
Verizon did that with the Chocolate and it’s MP3 ringtones. They crippled the phone so that you can’t set MP3 ringtones onto it except through Verizon’s own service. They didn’t actually keep the phone from playing the ringtones, but they did keep you from setting them as ringtones. So I can see how this could be accomplished.

The infamous Joe says:

Re: what?

mp3 cannot be DRM’d, itunes uses acc format.. which if I recall, has a better compression– but can be DRM’d (which can be removed if you have the license and tunebite (or similar program).

mp3 has stopped being a specific format and is now used to represent all digital music, it seems… which is the root cause of the confusion above.

I poked around online and I think for the article above, the only way to interface with the phones is wirelessly through the melon service, or usb through the melon player. So, it’s not as if you can hook it up to a PC and transfer files– the phone would only be recognized by the melon player– and the melon player only recognizes mp3’s you downloaded from the service. I could be wrong, I don’t read or speak Korean.

btw, if you didn’t read the article, melon is the service that SKT uses to give you music.

I dunno, Verizion does a good job or crippling their phones to ‘guide’ you to using their ‘Get it Now’ service and no one has made a stink about it yet.

Joe Blow says:

Korean Laws

Phones must compatible industry standard, even the power jack and headphone jacks (Meaning LG and Samsung cannot use different headphone jacks. This law went into effect recently. MP3 issue is the same, the phone must not use a format only compatible with one website they own. The law is meant to save money for consumer, so they don’t have to buy new acc’s everytime they change phone.

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s possible that they are confusing the term mp3 with files from the cell phone service which are not actually mp3 files. Another possibility I can think of is that they designed the phones such that there’s no way (without some serious hacking) to get standard mp3 files from an external source into the phone in order to be playable. I believe that’s why the bluetooth capabilities of the Motorola V710 phone (which is what I have) were crippled to not allow file transfers over bluetooth. I can easily get around it though by putting mp3s on a 512MB transflash card and popping it into the phone. The only issue I run into is that you can’t use an mp3 for a ringtone or alarm unless you move it to the phone’s internal memory which is a measly 10MB, almost half of which is clogged with factory wallpapers and other crap that it won’t let me delete.

Anonymous Coward says:

I don’t want to spam but there is a company that makes open source television recorders, I bet they’d be a freaking hit if they made open source cell phones. Their products currently are freaking sweet but the whole concept of non proprietary code is a new business model and the company will probably continue to grow but at a slow pace. Then when people realize how smart it is everyone will go opensource.

kyle m. c. says:

i have an SK phone

I think I have one of these phones.

It says it plays MP3s, and it takes micro SD cards, so you can hold lots of songs.

so I figured I’d be wise, and just pop the micro SD into my computer and copy the MP3s to the SD, then pop it in the phone and not have to install a bunch of crap on my computer.

thats when I ran into problems. it can see the MP3s as being mp3 files, but it can’t play them. instead, the phone relies on ‘playlists’. it won’t let me make a playlist on the phone, and it won’t let me play files without one. so mp3s, and movie files have to be run through this melOn player.

PANCHA PRAWIRANEGARA says:

big troubles for me

i have the sky mobile phones for type imb-1000 but i can’t play the mp3 files, even i had been copy that files to the micro sd, how i can use my feature on my phones for mp3s, and read the manual book said use the melon player service but i don’t have the usb driver and my usb cable has lost, can melon player convert the files without usb cable ( just copy after convert by computer to micro sd using card reader ) ???, please reply as soon as possible you can because its really big trouble for me

sweethinata says:

then how?

hey guys then i don’t understand how to transfer music files to my Motorola MS700 which i bought from Korea and using in different place it sounds unfair i love music and i can’t listen to it on my phone which i actually bought just for doing this……. does anyone know how to do that without making so much trouble. cuz i spend whole week to figure out how. they don’t give me any install cds with the phone all i have is my phone my usb. if you help me i will really appreciate this. thanks for advance

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