중앙데일리

iPhone: to import or not to import?

July 24,2009
Apple’s iPhone has become a big catch-22 for Korean mobile phone operators SK Telecom and KT. As the two companies contemplate launching the iPhone in Korea next month, the industry is split on the benefits to the nation’s telecommunications industry. Some say the iPhone’s launch will pressure local phone makers while others say it will offer consumers a broader spectrum of choices.

Apple is requesting that Korean operators purchase over 1 million iPhones over the next three years if they decide to import the product, industry sources say. If both SKT and KT import the iPhone, this will total 2 million units. As one iPhone is priced in the $600 to $700 range, this would equal around 2 trillion won ($1.6 billion) worth of iPhones at least.

Also, the operating companies are responsible for “after service,” or A/S, as it is known here. The A/S for the iPhone, which is not made locally, will cost more than that for Korean-made phones. One of the main problems for operators has been that mobile content services, including games and music, will be difficult to download onto the iPhone through Korean service providers because of the App Store, Apple’s own unique content system. This would result in more money for Apple and less for the Korean operators who run the content services.

The total expected loss for the two companies if they start selling the iPhone here is estimated to be around 200 billion won each in the next three years. “U.S.-based AT&T and Japan’s SoftBank are in similar situations, in which they lose when launching the iPhone. If Apple’s purchase demands are met, it would result in less profit for the operating companies,” said Song Jae-kyeong, a division head at KTB Securities. In a recent report by the Korea Information Society Development Institute, it was stated that SoftBank suffered a loss by importing the iPhone. KT has been actively trying to import the iPhone.

The company has made various proposals to Apple, but “we haven’t gotten the final call from Apple yet,” said Kim Woo-sik, KT president and head of the individual customer division.SKT is following KT’s lead. “The iPhone is a brand that can be burdensome to own but too good to give away to another company,” said Lee Hyung-hee, director of SKT’s CR strategy division.


By Lee Weon-ho [jainnie@joongang.co.kr]



dictionary dictionary | 프린트 메일로보내기 내블로그에 저장