Thursday, June 17, 2010

Apple gets more than 600,000 Orders for iPhone 4 and closes Pre-ordering

As reported in The New York Times, Apple was overwhelmed with pre-orders for the iPhone 4 and had to close pre-ordering and apologize to customers, asking them to try again when the phone was in stock.  What does this say about the emerging market for smart phones in Korea?
Although KT has already sold 700,000 or so of the iPhone 3Gs, they are impossible to find and there is a waiting list for them in the South Korean market.  It seems apparent that there would be an equally strong demand here for the iPhone 4, as soon as it becomes available.
The demand for these phones is not because most of their most valuable components (screen, camera, batter, main processing chip, memory chip, etc.) are made in Korea.   Instead, it is because Korean consumers have perhaps the world's highest expectations of their telecommunications services of any consumer group in the world.   Three decades ago, an average Korean had to wait over a year to have regular telephone service installed and there were no digital networks.  Today all of that has changed.  Korean consumers expect the very latest and very best technology and are quick to adopt it.   I say bring on the iPhone 4 and the Androids!

Apple Faces Developer's Collective Action in Korea

Apple's closed approach to the approval and marketing of apps for its iPhone, in contrast to the open approach adopted by the Google-backed Android platform, is raising some hackles in South Korea.  As reported in The Korea Times, Korean internet companies are voicing increasing anger at what they say has been Apple's slowness and inconsistency in approving applications for iPhones. Controversy erupted last month when Apple discarded a number of applications from Korean music streaming sites including ``Bugs Music,'' ``Soribada'' and ``Mnet'' from its App Store content platform.  The Korea Internet Corporations Association, an industry lobby that represents 150 internet firms including NHN, Daum and Google Korea said its member companies are considering collective action against the U.S. technology giant's "unfair" business policies.  Apple has offered no explanation of why the previously-approved applications were pulled, although industry watchers suggest it may be part of the company's changing business strategy for music in the Korea market.
Until recently, Korean iPhone users had been able to access only a fraction of the vast iTunes content pool, but Apple now appears to be opening up the pipeline.  This would mean iTunes would have to compete directly with services like Bugs music.   The outcome of these developments will be worth watching closely, especially with a raft of Android-based phones hitting the market in the last half of this year!

LTE, WiBro to be Global 4G Standards

The news is out that LTE Evolution and WiBro Evolution (known as WiMax Evolution outside of Korea) have been selected as the two global standards for fourth generation mobile technology.  As reported in The Korea Herald, the decision was made at an ITU meeting in Vietnam June 9-16.  The ITU will complete developing the specific standardization framework for the two technologies by March 2011 and grant final approval in February 2012. “With Korea playing a key role in the international standardization effort, the nation will be able to lead the way in designing core technologies for the next generation,” said Kim Jeong-sam, director of the radio spectrum policy division at the Korea Communications Commission.  The research and development on WiBro Evolution has been led by Samsung Electronics and Korea's Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI).

Thursday, June 10, 2010

iPhone 4 "Made in Korea?"

The Chosun Ilbo today carried an interesting short story entitled, "iPhone 4 Made in Korea."   In fact, amid all of the news reports of a titanic clash between Samsung's new Android phone and the iPhone, many of the most important components of the iPhone 4 are supplied by Korean companies.  The screen, which received a great deal of attention during the iPhone 4's unveiling recently in San Francisco, is manufactured by LG, which also makes the displays for Apple's iPad.  Samsung supplies the flash memory chip and the A4 CPU chip that powers the iPhone.  As if that weren't enough, the batteries in the new phone are manufactured by Samsung SDI, and it is equipped with multi-layer ceramic capacitors made by Samsung.  Smaller Korean companies are also involved.  Amotech supplies the varistors used in the phone, and Interflex produces the flexible printed circuit boards.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Google versus Naver in the Mobile Broadband Era

I read an interesting short article in Telecoms Korea today that confirmed my thinking.  To be specific, I thought that the introduction of the iPhone and Android-based phones in Korea would quickly begin to erode Naver's monopoly on web-based search here in Korea.  That appears to be what is happening.  According to the article "Although Naver is a leading search engine on the web, NHN has felt threatened from Google in conjunction with the expansion of Android-based smartphones in the local market. Google services, including mobile search, are offered by default on Android smartphones and the iPhone, and Google is gaining popularity with Korean mobile users and on the web."  Enough said.