Apple aims at Korea’s IT heart

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Apple aims at Korea’s IT heart

Apple Inc. declared on Monday that it will enter the cloud computing market. Apple CEO Steve Jobs ambitiously unveiled its new online services, including iCloud, Mac OS X Lion and iOS 5. The company’s cloud computing services will allow it to host users’ digital lives on its servers and synchronize their files across devices for free.

Those services, of course, are not the exclusive property of Apple. Microsoft and Google were the pioneers in the business. But as Apple has proved its ability to create a new IT universe through the introduction of the iPod and iPhone, Jobs’ announcement is an alarm bell for the Korean IT industry.

When cloud computing services become the new norm, it will undoubtedly have far-reaching repercussions for the global IT industry. First, all of the complex functions of computers and mobile phones will be much more streamlined than they are now.

Thanks to that, customers will surely gain far easier and more convenient access to a myriad of information in the new environment. The innovation could, however, herald a nightmare for manufacturers of electronic gadgets around the world because it will naturally decrease the effectiveness and added value of devices.

The change will also require far fewer components - such as semiconductors or LCD panels - for handheld devices. Because the Korean economy still thrives on the production of mobile phones and semiconductors, Steve Jobs’ announcement is equivalent to a sharp attack on the heart of the Korean IT industry.

When cloud computing services become popular it portends an all-out war over who will take the lead in the ever-competitive IT world. The company that dominates the market will obviously wield a tremendous amount of power over the entire field, ranging from electronic manufacturing to content distribution. In an extreme case, terminal manufacturers and server rental firms may all end up as subcontractors for the winner in the new arena.

Apple’s advance into the market is seen as an attempt to dominate the world’s IT habitat. Korean companies should be thoroughly prepared for a full-fledged battle on the new frontier, unless they can avoid it. They must brace for the new war by mobilizing their full potential, including their strength in both hardware and software. They must also learn from Nokia, which had to pay a hefty price for failing to catch the fast-moving current in the smartphone market.

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