Internet in North Korea, Nokia's Ovi Store, Google Wave and Tech Happenings

Internet in North Korea

In a previous story we talked about Egyptian telco Orascom helping launch a 3G mobile network in North Korea. Last week several press reports claimed that internet access is now available on this network. There is a lively discussion on at on just what type of content is available on this network and if the access is to the full internet or is it a limited intranet of sorts. I found one comment by a visitor to North Korea that gives us a glimpse of wider internet in the secretive nation.

Also interesting, a trendy local college girl we met in the hotel bar told us that she used to have Internet at home and that in the 2004-2005 timeframe she had been doing Internet dating. She would find a boy online and have him show up at a public place near her apartment block. Spying on him from above, if she didn’t like the way he looked, she would not come out to meet him. The Internet service was suspended in the 2005-2006 time-frame and she was very unhappy about that. She liked the Internet, regardless of the limited and NK-specific services that may have been available.

Nokia's Ovi Store

Nokia launched it's version of app store  called Ovi store. Nokia phone users can now register on this store and buy apps for their mobiles. Tech bloggers are comparing Nokia's attempt to Apple's offering.  Medianama, an Indian tech blog compares the usability of Ovi store to Apple's app store

Nokia has a substantial number of handsets in the market, each has its own form factor and operating system. Consumers won’t exactly be pleased when a particular application isn’t available for theirs. That’s where the iPhone App store has an advantage, since it’s the same OS, and just one type of app. In that context, Nokia’s reach doesn’t quite appear to be the advantage one thought it was.

Malaysia Mobile Tech News talks about another challenge facing Nokia app store initiative

However, it is difficult to achieve what Apple has done with the AppStore, simply because Apple didn’t give software publishers a choice when it started selling the iPhone – either sell through the AppStore or via very-limited-reach third party means (meaning Cydia and the Cydia Store, if you’re familiar with the iPhone). Nokia didn’t start off this way – every software publisher sold through their own website, or another mobile software e-marketplace, and to force “coerce” them to now come under the Ovi Store to the exclusion of every other avenue is an impossible task. After all, what’s the compelling reason for them to move over to the Ovi Store?

See also: Nigeria now Number 9 on Opera Mini Global Chart

Web Services

While access of any sort is a good news in North Korea, netizens in Vietnam are lamenting the loss of a popular online service – Yahoo 360. Taitran in Vietnam describes the feeling in Vietnam after Yahoo announced that it would be closing the service.

Google was busy at its developer event giving away free Android phones and launching a new product called Wave.

Singapore based elearningpost writes how Wave is more than a groupware application that other vendors are selling.

The Wave is not just another application, it's a whole new way of using online information. If you have not seen the demo yet, you should. The Wave takes collaboration to a whole new level. When I was watching the collaboration demo, I felt the entire experience was more like an extension into multiple minds rather than the ‘switch-type’ collaboration we see in the likes of Sharepoint and Lotus Notes. The engagement just felt more organic, more emergent, more fun.

Also from Singapore,  Rambling Librarian analyzes how Google Wave can be used by librarians to  “transform the way we provide Enquiry and Advisory services. Or how we research, collaborate and publish documents”.

Tech entrepreneur Jonathan Gosier at Appfrica and based in Uganda isconcerned about the usability of the product in low bandwidth situations.

Of course, I have to point out that all this real-time communication stuff only matters to the fraction of people on the planet with good bandwidth. Here in Uganda, I’m so glad when an email actually makes it out of the queue that I don’t even bother to think about ‘rewinding’ conversations and dragging and dropping video! In all seriousness, it’s this reduction in basic utility for all users that worries me. Most Google’ products are by-in-large accessible no matter what kind of computer you’re on (except maybe Google Earth). With Wave they seem to be going down a path that might be a little more exclusive in nature. Not a deal-breaker but a concern none-the-less.

See also: The Startups That Rocked UnConference 2009 (Singapore), Indiblogger State of the Indian blogosphere report for May 2009 (India)


Web designers in Vietnam had their WebcampSaigon 1 event that Fresco2.0 describes as a “a dedicated community by designers for designers”. Fresco2.0 has pictures and presentations from the event.

Neighboring Thailand had its Barcamp at the Sripatum university in Bangkok that also attracted technogists from Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Hong Kong. The two day events had people talking about web 2.0, design, databases, content management systems, social media and hardware hacks. Some of the participants stayed overnight at the venue, coding and hacking. The presentations are at the Barcamp Bangkok 3 Slideshare page. Here is one from Kulawat about Agile.

Not every thing was tech though. Vietnamese delegate Huy Zing conducted a Salsa dancing session.

31o5 has a collection of great images from the event.

Earlier in May, Tokyo tech enthusiasts held their Barcamp. Participants gathered at Sun's Yoga office and talked about tech startups in Japan, Twitter, Japanese popular culture among other things. One of the popular session was a demo of Solaris Live USB creator by Hiroshi Chonan. Hiroshi is the developer of this utility that lets PC users try the Open Solaris operating system without going through an installation. In the video below a fellow Sun presenter points out why this live usb creator is important for the distribution of Open Solaris.

Another gadget that you see a lot in Tokyo tech events these days is the Poken. It  looks like a USB drive and come in cool designs. You can store your contact information on a Poken and then exchange it with someone else just by placing your Poken next to another one. Here you see attendees at Tokyo barcamp networking with their pokens.

If you are in India, and working on a tech startup, the event would interest you. Amit Mittal at writes

What got me excited though is the 3 day bootcamp that is putting together. Day one will focus on diving into the business plan you have for the company, and combing through all the fine details. Day two, they teach you and groom you on how best to deliver a pitch (some advertising guys coming in here to help.) Day three, is all about the stage — well known event management company “BuzzWorks” will teach you how to handle yourself in front of the camera, what to do and what not to do when in a public forum.

Sydney tech enthusiasts have also announced a “recession” edition barcamp to be held on the 27th of June. Their new activity this time round is the Think Tank room.

Finally, we have a new idea for a few of the sessions – the Think Tank room. The Think Tank room is a small room with no projector and no tech – just enough room for a small group of people discussing ideas. And what better ideas to discuss than ideas about the future.

See also: Make Tokyo Meeting 03: Where You Can See Future, Magic And Junk In A Place

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