Lenovo teams up with SK Telecom to launch online mobile apps store
Lenovo Group has forged an alliance with SK Telecom, South Korea's largest telecommunications service provider, to introduce mobile applications for all its smartphones sold on the mainland.
An initial batch of 100 programs will be available for download on the 'T Store' applications platform next month, when Lenovo releases an upgraded version of its 3G LePhone.
'We also expect to provide applications for LePad, Lenovo's media tablet, in the near future,' an SK Telecom spokeswoman said yesterday.
The LePad is also scheduled to go on sale on the mainland next month.
Lisa Soh, an analyst at Macquarie Securities, described the Lenovo-SK Telecom co-operation as 'an interesting development' because all three major telecommunications network operators were about to formally launch branded apps stores.
China Mobile's online 'Mobile Market' was pre-launched in August last year, while China Unicom is set to introduce its 'Wo' store this month. China Telecom Corp's 'eStore' has been on trials since March.
All these initiatives could further heat up the mainland's nascent mobile applications market after Apple quietly debuted last month a simplified Chinese version of its 'App Store', which features localised software applications among more than 300,000 free and paid programs for its iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices.
SK Telecom executive vice-president Hong Sung-cheol said the alliance 'creates a new growth path for Lenovo', whose LePhone model accounts for an estimated 12 per cent of the domestic market for Android operating system-based smartphones. The device supports all three nationwide 3G operators.
Rather than provide more free mobile applications to mainland consumers, T Store will focus on high-quality paid applications, such as games, and digital content like comics and music. Revenue-sharing arrangements were not disclosed.
'The key will be for us to choose wisely among the 10,000 Android mobile applications offered in the original T Store in Korea that will appeal to Chinese smartphone users,' the SK Telecom spokeswoman said.
SK Telecom said it had long-term plans to expand T Store's content-distribution platform to a global scale through its close co-operation with Lenovo.