[Viewpoint] Be brave in brave new media world

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[Viewpoint] Be brave in brave new media world

In May, Google Inc. announced it will soon debut a smart TV on Sony TV panels powered by the Android operating system. Apple Inc., the frontrunner in smart digital devices such as the iPhone and iPad, also plans to market a TV with similar mobile and on-demand applications at $99 per set. Online bookseller Amazon Inc. is said to be selling more e-books through its digital reading device Kindle than printed volumes. At the recent IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin, Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics unveiled their version of smart TVs with digital and mobile applications such as video on-demand, an application store and video streaming services.

The heated competition in digital technology has sparked sweeping changes in the media environment. Internet protocol television operators are quickly adapting to the changes by opening up their platforms and set-top boxes to meet the interactive and interconnective needs of next-generation smart TVs.

The smart TVs are prompting the development of applications that will transform the consumer’s passive act of watching TV into a personalized experience of playing games, shopping, exercising and gaining information, or even using the TV in his or her line of work. The knowledge spread through print in the new digital habitat will stream across the online network system, and will be automatically tailored to meet the consumer’s taste and intelligence level.

The digital media industry will initially be led by broadband networks and new innovative devices and platforms like TV sets or mobile phones. But the real competition will be in the realm of content, or software, that tech-savvy consumers will grow to desire. Apple earns more revenue from apps than selling iPhones, and the trend will unlikely change in the future. The company’s competitive edge in apps and software is underscored by its confidence in putting a very affordable price tag on its iTV.

We, too, have belatedly joined the flow, passing a new media law in the hopes of enlarging the market, stimulating content development and laying the groundwork for the smart TV era. But our industrial mind-set - which is grounded in the success of hardware and heavy industries like semiconductors, automobiles, LCDs, and ships - fails to understand the new era of an intelligent media industry. We still believe broadband networks and hardware platforms like TV and handsets are enough to give traction to our economy. For instance, when Apple’s iPhone upset the mobile device market at home, local players hurriedly rolled out similar copies and exposed their weaknesses in the digital world. If we do not shake off our old habits and obsessions with hardware, we may one day find ourselves in Japan’s shoes and become dinosaurs in the digital milieu.

The media industry of the future will be lead by markets that are equipped and established with a habitat of diverse supplies and easy access to intelligence and information. The next-generation media environment must pass beyond the distribution of music, movies and games to purvey infrastructure essentials for education, finance, bio-technology, the medical industry, energy and transportation. The role of purveyors and operators of the services is pivotal in creating a society in which the convergence of intelligence and services is ubiquitous. A new world is in the making with the consumer in the center as the producer, creator and purveyor of digital intelligence.

The government can take a decisive role in promoting the optimum environment in awarding new media and broadcasting licenses. We hope it will make all-out efforts to push us to become the world’s top provider of Internet access in the new digital world. We hope to see software and intelligent content contributing to our economy as much as our hardware devices and equipment shipments have done.

*Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
The writer is a professor of electronic engineering at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.

By Choi Jun-kyun
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