iPhone Takes Off in Korea
South Koreans finally got their long awaited iPhones on Saturday
, with some excited customers starting to line up 26 hours before sales began in the Seoul outlet of South Korean mobile carrier KT Corporation, Apple's local partner,. 65,000 customers had pre-ordered the phone, with tens or even hundreds of thousands of orders expected by the end of the year.
Regulatory hurdles had delayed the iPhone's arrival in South Korea, but final approval by the Korea Communications Commission came earlier this month. The government agency issued Apple a special license to offer location-based services - like maps and directions - in South Korea. South Korean law requires companies that provide such services to get government permission.
The commission earlier this year also abolished a rule that required all mobile devices to carry special software adapted to South Korea's wireless Internet platform. Since this regulation imposed an added cost for foreign manufacturers, it was viewed as an illegal trade barrier under World Trade Organization rules.
KT said about 850 people picked up iPhones at the launch event, with others receiving them via delivery to their homes or offices. The 32 GB iPhone 3GS - available from KT for the equivalent of $317 on a $38 per month two-year contract and free to customers who buy a month-to month contract at $112/mo - is cheap for this market, dominated by Korean manufacturers Samsung and LG: the second and third largest phone makers globally, after Nokia. The Korea Times reported
that Samsung has already lowered prices on some models in what could be the start of a smartphone price war.
South Korean consumers are "sophisticated," according to iPhonAsia
, and "are eager to take full advantage of iPhone’s superior user interface and application offerings."
image via Naver