One Hangul typing systemMobile phone manufacturers in South Korea each use their own Hangul typing system. This causes mobile phone users a great deal of inconvenience when they change phones, because with each new handset they have to get used to a new typing system.
Phone companies may have achieved their goal of solidifying customers’ loyalty to their products. But this lack of a standardized typing system will eventually result in a tremendous waste of resources and opportunities.
The same is true of mobile phone batteries. Since 2002, each manufacturer has used a different model for each phone. Therefore, customers have to purchase a different type of battery whenever they buy a new phone, whether it is manufactured by the same company or not.
The differences in mobile phone keyboards from manufacturer to manufacturer cause real problems for the consumer. Once one starts to use a phone produced by a particular company, it is not easy to replace the phone with a new one.
Mobile phone manufacturers may be content to spend their time and money on marketing rather than on quality and competitiveness, but the victims of this strategy are consumers.
This situation has continued for 15 years. The government has attempted to standardize the Hangul typing system since 1995, but it hit a wall because of strong resistance from manufacturers such as Samsung, LG and Pantech, which are unwilling to step back, touting the superiority of their own typing systems.
Another hurdle to the streamlining effort is patents. There are more than 400 patents spread throughout the mobile phone industry.
Now the government is giving the impression that it is trying to find a solution, following China’s move to create a standard Hangul typing system ahead of South Korea based on the logic that Korean is one of many languages used by ethnic minorities in the country.
The number of mobile phones in South Korea already exceeds 20 million, and that is not counting the potential demand for more than 2 million units in China as well as potential customers in North Korea. The number of smartphone users will also increase rapidly, along with the number of tablet PC users. Under these circumstances, having different Hangul typing systems would be detrimental to efforts to globalize Hangul.
The government once created a standard Hangul typing system for Korean typewriters. Now it should do the same for mobile phones by consulting directly with mobile phone manufacturers, the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards and other related groups.