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Wireless Culture Clash

Light Reading
LR Mobile News Analysis
Light Reading
8/28/2002

If you've ever wanted a graphic illustration of the huge differences between mobile usage in countries like South Korea and the U.S., you only need talk to wireless games developer Jamdat Mobile Inc., which is working with operators in both countries.

According to Jamdat's CEO Mitch Lasky, one of the most popular wireless games in Korea is a bizarre-sounding stripping game, where the aim is to undress the cartoony female figure by, er... fishing? [Ed. note: We're not sure how this works either.]

Meanwhile, in the U.S., games like bowling and golf are giving Sprint PCS (NYSE: PCS) and Verizon Wireless users sore thumbs.

"Some of the [Korean] games are just too weird or offensive to work in the U.S.," admits Lasky.

However, there's no sniffing at what operators like KTF in Korea have achieved with mobile development platforms such as Qualcomm Inc.'s (Nasdaq: QCOM) binary runtime environment for wireless (BREW).

Since it launched the BREW service called Magic Multipack last year, KTF has signed up 1.5 million subscribers and launched 19 compatible handsets and 450 suitable applications.

Games are one of the big drivers in the Korean market. Lasky says that Jamdat is now working on more multiplayer, interactive games, some of which will no doubt trickle back to the U.S. eventually.

Jamdat and Qualcomm demoed a bunch of different BREW phones for Unstrung when we met them recently, and you can certainly see why the games are so popular in Korea. Literally. The one huge difference between the devices intended for Korea and phones for the U.S. is how much better the color screens on the Korean handsets were.

Why is this? Unstrung thinks we should be told.

— Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung
http://www.unstrung.com

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