With final hurdle cleared, iPhone will arrive in Nov.
|The Apple iPhone|
The Apple iPhone is finally coming to Korea this November, the Korea Communications Committee announced yesterday.
The regulator said that it would make an exception to the law that requires handsets sold in Korea to use domestic locating (GPS) technology, which had been the main cause of the delayed launch of the iPhone in Korea.
The regulation is aimed at protecting the domestic mobile phone market, and has helped handsets made by local companies Samsung Electroncs and LG Electronics dominate Korea for years.
“With the entry of new technology, the law needs to be reinterpreted as well, in consideration of consumer rights and global trends,” said Hyung Tae-gun, a member of KCC’s standing committee.
KT, Korea’s No. 2 mobile operator, is expected to start selling iPhones here by November. For over two years, the company had been in talks with Apple about launching the hit cell phone on the local market.
The service provider said that nothing had yet been decided about the phone’s price or initial supply, or about the exact date of the launch.
According to industry estimates, KT is reportedly looking to sell around 300,000 units every year, but Apple is requesting more.
In the United States, the 16-gigabyte iPhone models sell for $199, while the newer handsets equipped with 32-gigabyte hard drives are priced at $299 each including a three-year contract.
“It will be hard for KT to sell the iPhone for much more than its price in the U.S.,” said an industry official who declined to be named.
KT is reportedly looking into creating a new payment package for all its smart phones, which would likely set monthly usage fees for the iPhone as well. AT&T in the U.S. currently offers a variety of iPhone packages that start at around $59 per month.
As of yesterday, Apple Korea still had no official comment, and it is not certain whether the handsets will be sold exclusively through KT or also through other local operators, such as top mobile carrier SK Telecom or LG Telecom.
The local industry and consumers are split on whether the phone will do well in Korea. “Although there has been much talk about the iPhone’s launch online, we expect the actual sales numbers to be small,” said an employee at LG Electronics. “We are not too concerned about the iPhone.”
By Cho Jae-eun [firstname.lastname@example.org]