Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Samsung and Apple's iPhone

In an earlier post, I posed the following question for readers of this blog.  How could South Korea, while possessing arguably the most advanced and dense digital networks of any nation in the world, be a laggard (80 or so other nations preceded it) in the adoption of the Apple iPhone and even Android-based "smart phones"?   Based on a recent article in the Korea Times, I am now tempted to propose a one word answer that explains the single biggest reason for the delay:  Samsung.   According to the article, KT's introduction of the iPhone in Korea created a rift between Samsung and KT, which continues to this day. Among other key points are the following:

  • The immense buzz generated by the iPhone contrasted starkly with the paucity of excitement about Samsung's Omnia II, which had previously been proclaimed as an "iPhone killer."
  • The iPhone has been selling about 4,000 units per day and its sales exceed those of Samsung's Omnia II by a considerable margin.
  • According to the report, Samsung has been channeling most of its new mobile phones toward SK Telecom, while providing lax technology support on the phones it offers to KT.  In particular, Samsung is directing its smartphone pipeline to SK Telecom, including its new Galaxy series which run on the Android platform.
  • The iPhone's rise is an alarming development for Samsung because it poses the question of whether the company can adapt to a new mobile marketplace in which the focus is moving from hardware to software and services.

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