Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Apple's iPhone Unlikely to Appear in Korea Soon

A report in today's Korea times suggests that Korean gadget lovers wanting an iPhone for Christmas had better forget it. The planet's most sought-after handset of the moment won't be making it to the world's mobile-phone capital by the end of the year.  This situation exists despite the interest of many consumers here in trying out the i-Phone.
There are basically two reasons for this situation.
  • One is the turmoil at KTF, whose former chief executive, Cho Young-ju, a big supporter of an iPhone release in Korea, is in jail for taking bribes from equipment makers.
  • And the Korea Communications Commission (KCC), the country's broadcasting and telecommunications regulator, still can't decide on whether to lift the software requirements (WIPI) that had prevented foreign handset makers from releasing their high-end products here.
Since 2005, the government has mandated ``WIPI,'' or ``wireless Internet platform for interoperability,'' for all handsets supporting mobile data services. Foreign makers have been reluctant to produce WIPI handsets only for the Korean market, which numbers about 20 million sets per year.
Samsung, LG Telecom and SK Telecom may all be content to see the Apple iPhone excluded from South Korea's market.  However, in the larger picture, this can be viewed as potentially damaging South Korea's market share in global mobile device exports.  As with Google's Android phone, the Apple iPhone is a cutting edge product.  If Korea would freely allow such products to compete fully in the local market, it would provide long term benefits in strengthening the capacity of its leading companies to compete globally.

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