SK Telecom launches its metaverse platform ‘ifland’ in 49 countries and regions
SK Telecom (“SKT”) today announced that its metaverse platform ‘ifland’ simultaneously launched in 49 countries and regions throughout the world. With the global launch of ifland, SKT will actively utilize K-pop content, develop attractive content with overseas partners, and strengthen communication features to shape ifland into a global leading social metaverse platform.
The global version of ifland supports English, Chinese (Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese) and Japanese, and is available for both Android and iOS smartphone users. The existing ifland app will be upgraded to the new global version. For instance, the app will automatically activate in the Korean mode when accessed from Korea, and the global mode when accessed from overseas countries.
This global expansion of ifland comes after SKT launched its existing Korean language service in July 2021. Since then, it has experienced 8.7 million downloads in its first year of operation. As of October 2022, Ifland had 12.8 million users.
Under the slogan, “The New Way of Socializing,” ifland will deliver a differentiated communication experience within the metaverse.
SKT will effectively expand ifland’s global reach through partnerships with major telecommunications companies in each continent. The company is working with e& (formerly known as Etisalat Group) in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, and Singtel in South East Asia.
On November 18, 2022, SKT signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with NTT Docomo, the largest mobile operator in Japan, to cooperate in areas of content, technology and service to further advance their metaverse services. Through the MOU, the two companies will forge strategic partnership in three key areas –metaverse, mobile network infrastructure and media business. They will also create greater synergies by cooperating with other SK ICT affiliates like SK Hynix and Contents Wavve (a joint venture between Korean terrestrial broadcasters KBS, MBC, and SBS and SKT).
First, SKT and NTT DOCOMO will work together in the areas of content, technology and service to further advance their metaverse services. SKT has been operating its metaverse service ‘ifland’ since July 2021, while NTT DOCOMO launched its metaverse service in March 2022.
Partnership discussions with other telecommunications companies are also underway. Together with its overseas partners, SKT plans to develop specialized features tailored to each different region. They will also promote various metaverse-related events and business cooperation, including joint production of popular local content.
Moreover, SKT plans to offer content targeting the “MZ generation (Millennials and Generation Z)” through partnerships with diverse players including overseas universities and international brands.
Early this month, SKT signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Thailand’s Bansomdejchaopraya Rajabhat University (BSRU) and Korea’s Dong-ah Institute of Media and Arts (DIMA) – which is providing a variety of programs including ‘Teen Teen Audition’ in ifland since the beginning of this year – to create a global metaverse campus. SKT will actively support BSRU and DIMA to overcome the limitations stemming from the physical distance between the two schools through ifland.
In addition, the company is working with Birger Christensen, a Copenhagen-based fashion company with over 150 years of history, to launch digital skins for avatars in ifland within this year to enable the MZ generation to better express themselves.
SKT has also updated key features of ifland. The company opened a global lounge within ifland to help those new to the metaverse to experience the new world with greater ease, and introduced avatars of many different colors.
In addition, to facilitate communication between hosts and participants of gatherings in ifland, SKT applied features like ‘one-on-one direct messaging’ and ‘3D speech bubble.’ ‘Live voting’ feature was also introduced to check the opinions of participants in real time, and ‘ifme motion sharing’ feature was adopted to apply the user’s facial expressions to his/her avatar.
To celebrate the global launch of ifland, SKT will be showcasing a wide variety of live K-pop content every week. Original metaverse K-pop content titled “The Fan Live Talkon” will target K-pop fans overseas, with over 50% of content provided in English. Every week, ifland will offer live content related to K-pop – e.g. auditions for K-pop trainees and nurturing of K-pop idols – for global fans to enjoy.
Within this year, through ifland’s SNS account, SKT plans to hold events to give out diverse artists’ goods and gifts to overseas users who participate in the meet-ups of K-pop content.
Meanwhile, ifland has surpassed 12.8 million of cumulative users as of October 2022, which represents a four-fold increase compared to 3 million early this year thanks to differentiated content offerings like original metaverse content.
“Since its launch in Korea in July 2021, ifland has grown rapidly to become the best social metaverse in Korea by attracting users of diverse age groups as well as many different organizations,” said Yang Maeng-seok, Head of Metaverse Office at SKT. “Now, we will go beyond Korea to expand our reach in the global market to take customers metaverse experience to the next level.”
List of countries in which ifland launched:
Argentina, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Deutschland, Finland, France, Ghana, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Macau, Malaysia, Mexico, Myanmar, New Zealand, Norway, Palau, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Rwanda, Singapore, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, the Dominican Republic, the Netherlands, the Philippines, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States, Tunisia, Turkey, Vietnam
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2 thoughts on “SK Telecom launches its metaverse platform ‘ifland’ in 49 countries and regions”
South Korean telecom giant SK Telecom said Tuesday it forged a partnership with Singapore’s largest mobile carrier Singtel to expand its metaverse service into the Asia-Pacific region.
Singtel operates in 21 countries to provide mobile communication and high-speed internet services to about 770 million users around the world.
Under their partnership, the two sides agreed to work together on initiating a metaverse project in Singapore and extend the project in the Asia-Pacific region overall.
Their first collaboration work will be localizing SK Telecom’s metaverse platform ifland to meet user interests in Singapore such as metaverse spaces and avatars themed exclusively on Singapore.
Adding to the big push on metaverse services, the two companies also agreed to seek cooperation on other areas of business, including quantum cryptography.
“The partnership with SKT will lead to innovation in the metaverse sector and will help Singtel to show its potential in its distinguished 5G technology that provides new experience in digital service,” said Singtel’s Chief Executive Officer of Consumer Anna Yip, .
“From cooperating with Singtel, SKT is able to introduce its metaverse business into the Asia-Pacific region,” SK Telecom’s Chief Development Officer Ha Min-yong, said, adding the company is determined to make its metaverse business global.
Source: Korea Herald
SKT is arguably more invested in AI than any other telco worldwide. Back in November, company executives announced plans that put AI at the very heart of SKT’s future strategy. “We will transform our core businesses into AI-based businesses to secure new growth drivers, offer AI services to deepen customer relations and employ AIX strategy to spread SK Telecom’s AI and digital transformation capabilities to other industries,” said Jinwon Kim, the operator’s chief financial officer.
Evidence of this approach could be seen at MWC, where SKT was eager to parade some of its AI partners and innovation. “We’re accelerating AI transformation with Korean AI companies,” said Jang Seong-ho, SKT’s AI business development team leader, during a conversation with Light Reading. “Together with partners, we’re trying to build an AI ecosystem in the global market, including the US.”
Phantom AI is one such partner. Founded in 2016, and based in Silicon Valley, it is developing algorithms for use in so-called advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), where vehicles would be only partly autonomous. Industry people refer to five levels of vehicle autonomy, with 1 meaning basic driver assistance and 5 describing a car that takes humans entirely out of the driving process – allowing the person who sits behind the wheel to knit, read novels or sleep.
“We are not targeting level 4 or 5 full autonomy but focusing on levels 2 and 3,” said Cho Hyung-gi, Phantom AI’s founder and CEO, who met with Light Reading at SKT’s stand. His company now has a contract with a major vehicle manufacturer and hopes to be in production by the final quarter of this year.
SKT’s practical involvement with Phantom AI seems to lie on the semiconductor side through an affiliate called Sapeon. Like Phantom, it is headquartered in California but wholly owned by SK Group, the parent company of SKT and South Korea’s second-largest “chaebol,” or conglomerate, after Samsung. Viewed as a potential rival to Nvidia, Sapeon is currently working on AI chips that could be used for servers and edge devices as well as in ADAS, said Jang.
“That is the idea,” Cho told Light Reading. “The subsidiary is well-known, and they are making an innovative AI chipset and we are purely software and so we see the synergy between Phantom and Sapeon.” A low-cost system-on-a-chip (SoC) priced at between $20 and $30 could be vital in helping Phantom target a mass market of lower-priced vehicles, Cho explained. “Tesla is using a very powerful and expensive SoC, but we are running on a low-cost chip so that we can deploy to millions.”