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Smart content market grows to W1.9tr in 2012

Thanks to fast-developing IT technology, the so-called smart content market last year reached an estimated 1.9 trillion won ($1.8 billion), up 18.2 percent from the previous year.

The lion’s share of the content was related to culture, showing that “soft power” will become the growth engine for the future, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said Thursday.

According to the 2012 Smart Content Market Report, the domestic market was estimated at 1.947 trillion won, up about 300 billion won from 2011’s 1.64 trillion won. Smart content refers to various content delivered through state-of-the-art electronic devices such as smartphones, tablet PCs and smart TV, and allows interaction with the content through touch screens, networking and GPS sensors.

Cultural content boosted the smart content market with online games accounting for 950 billion won (46.4 percent), followed by electronic books (7.7 percent), music (4.7 percent), video images (4.4 percent) and “edutainment,” a combination of education and entertainment.

This trend is in line with the global trend of cultural content taking over 83.5 percent of the market. The gaming industry took the lead in 2012 with $30.1 billion, or 22 percent of the global market.

In terms of smartphone applications, 90.4 percent of downloads were made in Korea with 80 percent being provided free of charge. This suggests that it is still difficult to generate revenue from application development, the ministry said. Among the paid application content, games, e-books and edutainment sources topped the category.

Smart content industry insiders predict that the market will expand for the next three years by 55 percent annually. However, the authorities noted that the actual growth rate has largely been 22 percent and businesses might be setting the bar too high.

“Smartphone games based on social media platforms such as ‘Anipang’ of the Kakao Talk application has led the boom. But it seems in general that large companies’ advancement into the market has vitalized the industry, rather than individual content developers’ efforts,” the report noted.

“The government will strengthen its support for incubation of new business and overseas marketing to seek diverse, high-quality smart cultural content,” said Lee Hye-lim, a ministry official.

By Bae Ji-sook (