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SK-EarthLink Has Designs on Youth Market

SK-EarthLink, a joint venture between SK Telecom and EarthLink , will launch a new wireless brand for "young, tech-savvy consumers" in early 2006, a company spokeswoman told internetnews.com.

"We've done a great deal of research to identify the unmet needs and wants of young consumers who are passionate about technology," Julie Cordua, an SK-EarthLink spokeswoman, said.

The offering will draw on SK Telecom's expertise in products, services and systems, as well as EarthLink's customer service support. Cordua declined to discuss advertising and marketing plans for the yet-unnamed brand.

In addition, form will play as big a role as function. Apple's iPod and Motorola's Razr, among others, have proven that formula for mobile devices.

Los Angeles-based SK-EarthLink has tapped Matias Durate as "vice president of experience design." Duarte previously served as director of design at Danger Inc., a mobile Internet software and services company.

Duarte led the industrial and ergonomic design of Danger's hiptop wireless device and was awarded seven patents. He was also responsible for the visual, interaction and information design of the device and Web software for consumer products.

"Design is incredibly important for us," Cordua said. "We aren't just selling a phone or a service. We're selling an entire experience that spans the handset, the Web, the user interface, the customer service elements and more. How we engage the consumer and interact with them is critical to our brand."

South Korean carrier SK Telecom and Atlanta ISP EarthLink announced their $440 million joint venture in January. Since then, they have made a number of staffing, structural and strategic moves.

The executive team is led by Sky Dayton, who previously founded EarthLink and Wi-Fi network aggregator Boingo, and draws talent from both sides of the joint venture.

The companies hope the joint venture will generate approximate revenues of $2 billion by 2009 and have 3 million subscribers.



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