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SKT fosters mobile application developers

SK Telecom is cranking up its support of software developers, seeking to broaden its pool of mobile applications.

Korea’s top mobile carrier said Tuesday it has picked four venture firms to receive its financial and operational support in its “innovation ecosystem” to generate programs for its mobile platform.

The conglomerate has also worked since last year to help small and medium-sized enterprises for mutually beneficial cooperation, it said.

SK opened up its application programming interface to the public in December, which consists of base technologies used to create applications such as mapping, messaging and gaming.

In its “Open API Collaboration Project,” SK will provide Korea Data House, AddAdsFriend, Panez and Geocaching Korea each with a minimum of 50 million won, a work space and necessary devices and equipment.

“Our Open Innovation Center will become a hub that represents domestic mobile ecosystems through partners’ voluntary participation and cooperation,” said Lee Jin-woo, senior vice president of SK’s open collaboration support office.
Developers from four member companies of SK Telecom’s Open API Collaboration Project converse at the company’s Open Innovation Center in Seoul on Monday.  (SK Telecom)
Developers from four member companies of SK Telecom’s Open API Collaboration Project converse at the company’s Open Innovation Center in Seoul on Monday.  (SK Telecom)

“SK will create a successful story of mutual growth by offering partners a one-stop service that embraces training, content and a service development environment.”

A total of 42 companies pitched their ideas for the project, SK said. Applicant firms’ sizes ranged from three employees to 30.

The four winners attempted to integrate games, advertising, shopping or social networks colorfully with T Map, SK’s location-based service that provides a route guide and traffic information on a real-time basis, SK said.

Among them, one suggested selling local specialties through a smartphone application, with which customers could search for special products in their region of travel, and buy them after finding nearby vendors on T Map. Users could contact the sellers for more information by messaging them through texts or social networks, the developer said.

The latest project mirrors SK’s initiative to build a “strong, smart network” and “open, intelligent platform” announced by new chief executive Ha Sung-min early this year.

While pushing for a network shift to the fourth-generation Long-Term Evolution, Ha newly installed a platform division and pledged support for application producers.

“In the information and communications technology industry, we passed an era in which a company can grow solely with its own capabilities,” Ha told reporters last month. “Mutual growth through open collaboration is a common task for all ICT firms and a wave that all industries should pursue.”

SK said it will invite other smaller developers throughout the year. Launched in April, its T Academy has been running 10 week-long courses for individual and venture developers in creating applications for smartphone operating systems.
By Shin Hyon-hee (heeshin@heraldcorp.com)
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