By 2007, there were 3.3 billion mobile subscribers worldwide at 49.5 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants worldwide, and 8% of global subscribers were on the third-generation (“3G”) networks. Japan and South Korea were ahead with penetration exceeding 50%, while Western Europe had reached around 35%8 and the United States reached 28.3% in 2008.9 Data-enabled handsets with a 3G network formed a platform that achieved efficiency and transfer speeds that could facilitate and support business opportunities based on multimedia and content revenues (e.g., video downloads, video calls, broadband mobile internet). Major content providers began developing for mobile platforms in addition to traditional platforms such PCs or consoles. Other internet services and products such as games, news channels, music and video distribution sites, social networking sites, and e-commerce sites, also entered the mobile ecosystem. A mobile handset was no longer a mere communication tool, it became a mobile platform consolidating communication, business, and lifestyle. It became the epitome of mobility and freedom.
Mobile handsets were traditionally manufactured by telecom equipment producers, but the business was soon overtaken by consumer electronics and computing companies such as Sony, Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics. As of 2007, Nokia’s handsets accounted for 38.2% of worldwide unit shipments, followed by Samsung Electronics at 14.1%, Motorola at 13.9%, Sony-Ericsson at 9% and LG Electronics at 7%.10
In terms of operating systems that controlled the interactions between hardware and software, and user interface that managed device navigation and interaction with the user, open standards began to gain hold in the industry in the 1990s when Linux launched a free operating system for computer hardware platforms. Following suit, Google invested heavily in open source software and supporting open standards, contributing to over 800 projects that totaled more than 20 million lines of code with four projects (Chrome, Android, Chrome OS and Google Web Toolkit). Google also acquired some 120 companies between 2001 and 2012. Android, a small developer of mobile operating systems, was acquired in 2005 for US$ 50 million.
In light of the Eurozone crisis and the US recession, exchange rates had shifted the world-trade balances. The Korean won decreased over 9% in value against the US dollar from January to June 2008. The drastic shift in the exchange rate helped South Korean exporters make significant inroads into world markets for mobile phones, LCD television sets, cars and other mainstay goods manufactured in the country.