Saturday, March 19, 2011

A New Round of Competition for Smartphones and Tablets

As a user of both an iPhone 3GS and, starting just recently, a Samsung Galaxy Tab I've found the recent spate of media coverage about the "second round" of competition in the South Korean market quite interesting.  The Korea Times carried an article entitled "iPhone Drives Smartphone makers into corner."  It describes what it calls the "second round" of the smart phone wars.  In the first round, SK Telecom teamed with Samsung, while KT offered Apple's iPhone.  In the second round, by contrast, the competition is between the carriers, with both offering Apple's iPhone.   The article goes on to speculate whether market power is shifting from the carriers to the handset makers.
It is not only the second round of competition for mobile handsets, but also for tablet devices.  As noted in another article in The Korea Times, even though Apple has not yet announced when the iPad2 will be available in the Korean market, early adopters are flooding shopping agencies in a pre-launch craze. An agency which runs an Internet café on the country’s top portal Naver had over a hundred requests to purchase the iPad2. On this site it costs 845,000 won to buy a 16GB, Wi-fi iPad2, including the agent fees and shipping costs. It depends on the agent, but the price is usually 1.5 times more than the price in the United States which starts from $499.   Furthermore, consider the actual cost of the parts that make up an iPad2.  As reported in yet another article, iSuppli has revealed that the iPad2 3G equipped with GSM has about 370,00 won ($327) worth of parts while the CDMA version is slightly cheaper.

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