Government-Mandated Content Platform Looks Like It's Failing In Korea
A few years back, the South Korean government tried to help mobile operators there break their dependence on Qualcomm by mandating the use of the homegrown WIPI mobile content platform, instead of the big Q's BREW system. Qualcomm, understandably, got a bit upset by this, since it cut off several good carrier customers, and eventually got the US government to intervene and persuade South Korea to modify its rules a bit, and allow the operators to install BREW on their handsets alongside WIPI. Still, the result was the intended one, with WIPI taking over the market as operators moved away from BREW. The short-term gain was the operators no longer having to pay Qualcomm, but the longer-term detriment was that the operators had isolated themselves from the rest of the world, and demanded the use of a spec not supported by many foreign handset vendors. Now, it appears some chinks are beginning to appear in WIPI's armor, as SKT says it probably won't use it on new BlackBerry devices it's planning to launch, while KTF says its forthcoming HSDPA devices probably won't support WIPI, either. Even in an environment as technologically advanced as South Korea, the operators are discovering that it doesn't help to isolate themselves from the rest of the world, even if it means forgoing a little bit of local protectionism.