SK Telecom Co., South Korea’s largest mobile-phone operator, plans to spend 1 trillion won ($896 million) to develop software for handsets and fend off the gaining popularity of Facebook Inc. and Apple Inc.
The mobile-phone operator will provide services similar to mobile map, instant messaging and social networking offered by Google Inc. and other companies, Seoul-based SK said in a statement today. The investment, spread over three years starting 2011, will be made mostly in research and development, Chief Executive Officer Jung Man Won told reporters in Seoul.
SK will open the sources of its programming interface to allow independent developers to create maps, music and other applications, the statement said. The plan is the company’s biggest push toward software development as Facebook makes inroads in South Korea and rival KT Corp. lures customers with the more than 200,000 applications and entertainment available on its exclusive contract for Apple’s iPhone and iTunes store.
SK opened a research laboratory on the campus of Seoul National University today to support the development of applications. SK will target the U.S., Chinese and Southeast Asian markets, in addition to local users, it said.
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