iPhone will be launching in Korea (finally) soon on KT Telecom’s 3G network. I am not sure how well the iPhone will do in Korea, especially since KT telecom actually has launched WiBro/WiMax service back in 2006r. Certainly, competing against other WiMax-enabled smartphones from Samsung and LG will be a tough task as iPhone might be literally competing against smartphones that can already broadcast live TV, play DivX HD movies, browse the web at warp-WiMax speeds and a whole list of customized GUIs.
My initial thought is that iPhone has little chance of succeeding in the South Korean market and I know that market pretty well since I lived there couple years ago.
Why has it taken so long for iPhone to emerge in Korea? Well, answer is simple, Korean government has been careful to introduce foreign products so they won’t monopolize the Korean businesses ever since the 50s after WW II. It’s not surprising it took years before iPhone shipped to Korea, perhaps a bit too late.
South Korea is one of the last of the Asian Pacific countries to offer the iPhone, which was launched in China last month and Japan last year, and is already on sale in India and Australia. In fact the iPhone is now available in 86 countries across the globe.
Part of the reason for the delay in making the iPhone available in South Korea was due to regulations surrounding the location based services the iPhone offers.
Under South Korean law, any business offering location based services such as maps and direction finders has to obtain permission from the government first.
I know Apple fanboys will hate me for saying the truth but the truth is, introducing iPhones to Korea “now” is like selling pagers to a country who are already enjoying cellphones.
South Koreans in general are not too interested in Apple products, rather Windows for the last decade or as far as I can remember since 1989 when I got my first dip into computers. This is another fact why Mozilla Firefox fails to be popular as here in America than Windows Internet Explorer. Well, I won’t get into details of this topic, let me save it for another blog post. Think of it this way, Bill Gates is still GOD while Steve Jobs is a NOBODY as far as most local South Koreans know. It’s rather a hard sell to a group of people who have been loyal to non-Apple products for decades, not to mention the hundreds of new smartphones Samsung and LG introduce in South Koreans every year that never even see a day in the U.S.
Perhaps if Apple had about a hundred different iPhones to choose from, that might be an interesting story to write about.
Just don’t expect miracles and I bet you, I am right.