IT Wagging Economy's Tail in Year of the Dog
IT Wagging Economy's Tail in Year of the Dog
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  • 승인 2006.01.01 12:01
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Aretrospective of the Koran economy, and particularly the IT and electronics industry, offers useful pointers to its future direction in 2006, the Year of the Dog in the Lunar Calendar. Despite the doomsayers' gloomy forecasts and reflections on the economy, there was simultaneous growth in domestic demand and exports during 2005 and this trend is almost certain to continue in 2006.
In the IT field, some remarkable milestones were reached in 2005. Korea developed the portable Internet WiBro in the Internet field for the first time in the world and its technology was adopted as the international standard. Along with this, its terrestrial Digital Multimedia Broadcasting (DMB) technology was also adopted as the European standard. Domestically, the commercial service of DMB started last year for the first time in the world, tiding over many difficulties. Exports, especially IT-related products and electronic products, were predominant, thanks to the recovery of the global IT industry in the second half of last year. According to the Samsung Economic Research Institute (SERI) in its review of the Korean economy in 2005, this trend is expected to continue in 2006, despite the slowdown in the economy in 2006 reflecting weakening economic growth in the United States and China. SERI forecasts that the economy will grow 4.8 percent in 2006, given the continuing robust exports and rising domestic demand. However SERI sees the most notable industrial trend in 2006 as being a slowdown of the IT industry in specific areas, with mobile phone and monitor sectors slowing down. Instead, it sees new IT products such as mid-to large size LCD monitors, printers, MP3 players and PMPs taking over and leading the market. The reason for the less than optimistic forecast in SERI's outlook, is that the semiconductor industry is hampered by excess in global supply. Nevertheless, Korean chipmakers will likely increase their influence in the global stage, with companies like Hynix rebounding from setbacks over the past few years. According to Choi, Byong-Sam of SERI, Korea's mobile communications operators can expect intense competition in the domestic market in 2006, in addition to challenges they face in advancing into new markets overseas. In other words, as he pointed out, this year could be an opportunity for Korea's mobile communications industry to rise to a new level, by providing services at lower rates and sophisticated features such as global roaming through cooperation with their counterparts overseas During his speech this month at the CES show in Las Vegas. Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates painted a picture of a digital world in which many devices, including cell phones, computers and televisions, will seamlessly complement one another. "Technology has revolutionized how we listen to music, watch TV, play games, communicate and manage and share personal information," he said. "2006 is going to be a big year for the digital lifestyle." In this sense, Korea is by no means lagging in the global race to be ahead of the game in this fiercely competitive new trend in the digital IT industry. In fact Korea has been planning for these changes for several years already, backed by strong support of the Korean government and particularly the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC). The Korea government's IT industry nurturing policy, 'IT839,' will be transforming into 'Post IT839' in the New Year, as the IT839 policy evolves into its next dynamic stage. According to this Post IT839 counterplan, VoIP will be substituted by knowledge-based IT service among eight new services and among three infrastructures, and USN & IPv6 will be united. Instead, software infrastructure is expected to be added In reality, WiBro (Wireless Broadband) technology developed by Korea has been adapted as the world standard, and terrestrial wave DMB (digital multimedia broadcasting) began its fullscale broadcasting, while telematics as well as intelligent-model robots etc. and achieved a number of breakthroughs. Such efforts by the government are certainly reaping benefits in terms of WiBro, DMB and Telematics, not to mention semiconductors, mobile communication terminals, and TFT-LCD. In particular, 2005 was the first year when terrestrial wave DMB began its full-scale broadcasting as well as overseas marketing inroad efforts started to bear fruit. First of all, the government is activating eight cutting-edge IT services as part of its 'IT 839' policy to reinforce the information communication service industry's competitiveness, plus fostering a conve-nient and safe communication use environment by improving various legal measures, together with proactively meeting the challenges of the convergence era, such as communication/broadcasting fusion. By introducing and implementing these eight information communication services, the government has prepared the groundwork for launching five new services, namely WiBro, DMB, Home networks, Telematics, and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification), in addition to activating three existing services, namely W-CDMA, DTV, and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). One example of Korea being completely in step with the trends outlined by Bill Gates in his keynote speech at ICE is the Information and Communications Ministry's (MIC's) strong support since 2004 for the rapid growth of Korea's fledgling robotics industry, when last year it released dozens of network-based robots in the Seoul metropolitan area for a trial run. And in 2006, the ministry plans to support local firms in commercially launching the home-based machines with an amazingly low price range of between 1 and 2 million won, due to outsourcing of most of their functions. These so-called "smart robots" require three basic functions of sensing, processing and action but Korean innovators have succeeded in reducing costs by outsourcing most sensing and processing capabilities by hooking up to outside servers through the mobile broadband Internet. MIC expects several types of robots from high-end to low-end will soon go on sale and the number of models will increase as the new-concept robots catch on among Koreans.

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