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iPhone to launch in South Korea at end of November

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
Apple's iPhone will be available to South Korean customers on November 28, just 10 days after South Korea's Communications Commission approved the iPhone for sale.

KT Corp announced that it will offer iPhones for sale beginning on November 28th, making it the first company in South Korea to carry the phone. According to an AP report, KT Corp. began accepting online and in-store orders for the iPhone but will not activate service until the 28th.

South Koreas handheld market is dominated by Samsung and Pantech, which according to Bloomberg have a 90 percent market share in South Korea. Nearly 90 percent of South Koreas population owns a mobile phone.

In a press release, Kim Woo-sik, CEO of KT Corps personal customer group said, We are thrilled to bring iPhone to South Korea. Our customers will enjoy the power and benefits of using the revolutionary iPhone on KTs 3G network.

The Korea Communications Commission approved the iPhone for sale at its meeting on Wednesday. South Korea has a nationwide policy that all devices providing location-based services be subjected to review.
post #2 of 28
I thought that S. Korea was all CDMA?
post #3 of 28
Apple will have to show Samsung the real competition here. That 90% will have to be chiseled away, point by point until Apple gets half of it. It will take time, perhaps years, but it will happen.

The march is on, there's no stopping Apple now!
post #4 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

I thought that S. Korea was all CDMA?

I did too. Apparently there are two GSM telcos (including KT) though.
post #5 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

I thought that S. Korea was all CDMA?

Very small percentage owned by LG Telecom is CDMA-based. Their two largest carriers account for ~80% of their ~45M users GSM-based. Not too many cell users and their phones and services are "advanced” like the Japanese so I wouldn’t expect much in the way of sales so be prepared for the “the iPhone is a failure” and “nobody wants the iPhone anymore” comments.
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post #6 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Very small percentage owned by LG Telecom is CDMA-based. Their two largest carriers account for ~80% of their ~45M users GSM-based. Not too many cell users and their phones and services are "advanced like the Japanese so I wouldnt expect much in the way of sales so be prepared for the the iPhone is a failure and nobody wants the iPhone anymore comments.

Umm but isn't the iPhone actually doing quite well in Japan? While many of the phones in Japan have more features than the iPhone there is actually more people buying iPhones than the others because the iPhone is easy to use and all those features that people say the Japanese crave are in fact so convoluted to use that they don't use them much anyway.
post #7 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Very small percentage owned by LG Telecom is CDMA-based. Their two largest carriers account for ~80% of their ~45M users GSM-based. Not too many cell users and their phones and services are "advanced like the Japanese so I wouldnt expect much in the way of sales so be prepared for the the iPhone is a failure and nobody wants the iPhone anymore comments.

I agree with you. I was in Korea last week (travel there often) and was chatting to colleagues about this. There seems to be pretty much zero interest in the iPhone.
post #8 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Very small percentage owned by LG Telecom is CDMA-based. Their two largest carriers account for ~80% of their ~45M users GSM-based. Not too many cell users and their phones and services are "advanced like the Japanese so I wouldnt expect much in the way of sales so be prepared for the the iPhone is a failure and nobody wants the iPhone anymore comments.

If there are any comments about 'the iPhone is a failure' with regards to Korea, it won't be because Korean phones are 'advanced,' but rather because of regulatory limitations and misinformation on behalf of the Korean government, telecos, and local cell-phone makers (Samsung, LG) towards Apple.

I've lived in Seoul for several years now and have witnessed all kinds of protectionism of domestic products here. It's no surprise to the expat community that we haven't been able to get our hands on any of the top smartphones - iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Pre, etc.

Finally, though, we'll be able to discard our local crap phones for real choices.
post #9 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by lowededwookie View Post

Umm but isn't the iPhone actually doing quite well in Japan? While many of the phones in Japan have more features than the iPhone there is actually more people buying iPhones than the others because the iPhone is easy to use and all those features that people say the Japanese crave are in fact so convoluted to use that they don't use them much anyway.

The iPhone did beat out any single model device for a month or so recently in Japan, but I think that overall the percentage of iPhone sales is still lower than other countries’ smartphone unit marketshare. Regardless, it’s a runaway success for an western designed smartphone in Japan.

But that is beside the point, my comment was about people claiming that it will fail, lke they did when the iPhone first arrived, based on the fact that it doesn’t such-and-such feature that everyone uses.
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post #10 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by paulalex View Post

If there are any comments about 'the iPhone is a failure' with regards to Korea, it won't be because Korean phones are 'advanced,' but rather because of regulatory limitations and misinformation on behalf of the Korean government, telecos, and local cell-phone makers (Samsung, LG) towards Apple.

I've lived in Seoul for several years now and have witnessed all kinds of protectionism of domestic products here. It's no surprise to the expat community that we haven't been able to get our hands on any of the top smartphones - iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Pre, etc.

Finally, though, we'll be able to discard our local crap phones for real choices.

Refreshing to hear that viewpoint.

The cliche is always about the great mobile services in S. Korea, but I've been skeptical (just as I have been in the case of Japan, where, unsurprisingly, the iPhone seems to have taken off). A lot of it seems to be in the category of useless bells and whistles that serve the needs of gadget nerds, not real-life, day-to-day users.
post #11 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by paulalex View Post

If there are any comments about 'the iPhone is a failure' with regards to Korea, it won't be because Korean phones are 'advanced,' but rather because of regulatory limitations and misinformation on behalf of the Korean government, telecos, and local cell-phone makers (Samsung, LG) towards Apple.

I imagine that the iPhone has been used in S. Korea since the start via the grey market. Do you know the prices of these unlocked devices?


edit: Here is a posting saying that IMEI, each phone’s serial number on the mobile network, is closely monitored to prevent grey market devices. This can be spoofed but some countries consider this a serious crime.

http://forums.macrumors.com/showpost...0&postcount=10 If that is true then the iPhone may do very well there, even at a premium price, which I am sure it will be do the high tariffs on foreign goods if it’s not already saturated with cheaper iPhones.
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post #12 of 28
I wonder if Al Gore negotiated this deal. He and Laura Ling.
post #13 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by paulalex View Post

If there are any comments about 'the iPhone is a failure' with regards to Korea, it won't be because Korean phones are 'advanced,' but rather because of regulatory limitations and misinformation on behalf of the Korean government, telecos, and local cell-phone makers (Samsung, LG) towards Apple.

I've lived in Seoul for several years now and have witnessed all kinds of protectionism of domestic products here. It's no surprise to the expat community that we haven't been able to get our hands on any of the top smartphones - iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Pre, etc.

Finally, though, we'll be able to discard our local crap phones for real choices.

How is this any different than other countries that introduce protection methods for their local industries, such as the US?
post #14 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I imagine that the iPhone has been used in S. Korea since the start via the grey market. Do you know the prices of these unlocked devices?


edit: Here is a posting saying that IMEI, each phones serial number on the mobile network, is closely monitored to prevent grey market devices. This can be spoofed but some countries consider this a serious crime.
http://forums.macrumors.com/showpost...0&postcount=10 If that is true then the iPhone may do very well there, even at a premium price, which I am sure it will be do the high tariffs on foreign goods if its not already saturated with cheaper iPhones.

I have not seen or heard of ANY grey market in iPhones in Korea. Even if the phones were "unlocked" you wouldn't be able to get a cell company to activate the phone. I was in Korea for the previous 2 years (now I'm in Suzhou) and it seems like in both situations I work in the two countries that constitute iPhone purgatory (China and Korea).. (no Wifi and other non-published restrictions on the iPhone in China, and ignorant protectionism of the Korean market.. not to mention the Korean data services for smart phones are monstrously expensive. It isn't unknown to have cell bills in the hundreds of dollars due to data usage.)

So, even if there were unlocked iPhones in Korea, no one would use them due to the archaic data pricing schemes. While hard-line broadband is super fast (100 mbs+ up and download speeds) and cheap -- the mobile variety is extremely overpriced and they charge by the kilobyte. No "unlimited" anything in Korea.
post #15 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I imagine that the iPhone has been used in S. Korea since the start via the grey market. Do you know the prices of these unlocked devices?


edit: Here is a posting saying that IMEI, each phones serial number on the mobile network, is closely monitored to prevent grey market devices. This can be spoofed but some countries consider this a serious crime.
http://forums.macrumors.com/showpost...0&postcount=10 If that is true then the iPhone may do very well there, even at a premium price, which I am sure it will be do the high tariffs on foreign goods if its not already saturated with cheaper iPhones.

Hi solipsism,

There's a huge black market in Korea for anything related to software/hardware and content, with the exception that there are no unlocked iPhones. This is in contrast to China, where I hear there's a huge black market for iPhones.

Of interesting note, we don't actually have any official Apple stores in Korea, as you would see in the US (with Genius Bars, training sessions, and informed/knowledgeable employees); just a small but decent number of Apple resellers. We can buy almost any Apple product (sans iPhone) at about a 15% premium on top of US prices. There's also a Apple Korea website that sells hardware/software, but no content (i.e. songs, tv shows, video).

Cheers
post #16 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by superacidjax View Post

I have not seen or heard of ANY grey market in iPhones in Korea...

Quote:
Originally Posted by paulalex View Post

There's a huge black market in Korea for anything related to software/hardware and content, with the exception that there are no unlocked iPhones...

Welcome to the forum. Always glad to get some international insights into these things.

Since the is no grey market in Korea do you think that the iPhone will be a relative hit with KTs 14M subs? What are the data rates and do they offer anything unlimited?


PS: Since the iPhone has no CDMA radios and Koreas 2G network is entirely CDMA, I wonder if the Turn 3G off switch will still be present.
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post #17 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Very small percentage owned by LG Telecom is CDMA-based. Their two largest carriers account for ~80% of their ~45M users GSM-based. Not too many cell users and their phones and services are "advanced” like the Japanese so I wouldn’t expect much in the way of sales so be prepared for the “the iPhone is a failure” and “nobody wants the iPhone anymore” comments.

All 3 South Korean carriers still have their CDMA/EV-DO networks running and the 2 carriers with WCDMA licenses --- still have the majority of their subscribers on their CDMA/EV-DO networks.

Only about 40% of SK Telecom's subscribers have WCDMA phones 1/2 year ago.

http://www.koreaninsight.com/2009/03...n-your-mobile/

The reason why migration is super slow in Korea --- blame their government, if you migrate to a 3G phone, you lose your telephone number.

http://asia.cnet.com/blogs/digihunte...tm?id=63002451

Most of the South Korean cell phones are as advance as the Japanese --- and still much like their Japanese counterpart, pretty much useless in their business models (such as mobile tv on cell phones).

http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news...133_39561.html

Quote:
Originally Posted by lowededwookie View Post

Umm but isn't the iPhone actually doing quite well in Japan? While many of the phones in Japan have more features than the iPhone there is actually more people buying iPhones than the others because the iPhone is easy to use and all those features that people say the Japanese crave are in fact so convoluted to use that they don't use them much anyway.

We don't really know how the iphone is doing in Japan because Softbank isn't releasing any sales numbers. The "ranking" of phone sales is pretty much useless in determining anything --- because every single cell phone is a carrier exclusive. It is very hard to beat the RAZR sales in the US --- because both CDMA and GSM RAZR's on all 4 carriers are lump together in the sales chart. It is very easy to rank number 1 in Japan cell phone sales, yet have dismal sales number on the absolute scale.
post #18 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

I wonder if Al Gore negotiated this deal. He and Laura Ling.

Grab a buddy and go take some photos. Don't expect any help getting out.
post #19 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Very small percentage owned by LG Telecom is CDMA-based. Their two largest carriers account for ~80% of their ~45M users GSM-based. Not too many cell users and their phones and services are "advanced like the Japanese so I wouldnt expect much in the way of sales so be prepared for the the iPhone is a failure and nobody wants the iPhone anymore comments.

I'm so amused when people confidently write what they don't know about. As samab wrote above, South Korea is a CDMA country, and their phones and services are as good as in Japan and way better than here in the U.S.
post #20 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by French Quarter View Post

I'm so amused when people confidently write what they don't know about. As samab wrote above, South Korea is a CDMA country, and their phones and services are as good as in Japan and way better than here in the U.S.

I'm amused when people don't read throughly. I wrote CMDA-based. That only applies to LG who has CDMA/CMDA2000/EVDO. The other two, larger carriers use CMDA for 2G but WCDMA-based network for 3G. This means only two of the 3 can use the iPhone as is.

I theN stated that their phones are "advanced" like in Japan. Though states that was wrong you then agreed with my statement. The rest is my initial speculation about sales but since their is no viable grey market due to do IMEI restrictions that has been revised.
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post #21 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by French Quarter View Post

I'm so amused when people confidently write what they don't know about. As samab wrote above, South Korea is a CDMA country, and their phones and services are as good as in Japan and way better than here in the U.S.

I never said that Japanese and Korean phones are way better than the American phones.

I said that Japanese and Korean phones are both saddled with a lot of useless technology that made zero business sense. Their governments pushed a tech agenda saying that we want to push mobile tv on cell phones --- doesn't mean that there is a viable business model for it.
post #22 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I'm amused when people don't read throughly. I wrote CMDA-based. That only applies to LG who has CDMA/CMDA2000/EVDO. The other two, larger carriers use CMDA for 2G but WCDMA-based network for 3G. This means only two of the 3 can use the iPhone as is.

I the stated that their phones are "advanced" like in Japan which you stated wa wrong despite agreeing with me. The rest is my initial speculation about sales but since their is no viable grey market due to do IMEI restrictions that has been revised.

Except that the Korean government classifies ev-do as 2G and the dead ev-dv as 3G. It's just a label.

The fact is that the majority of Koreans are still using CDMA/EV-DO phones.
post #23 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by samab View Post

I said that Japanese and Korean phones are both saddled with a lot of useless technology that made zero business sense. Their governments pushed a tech agenda saying that we want to push mobile tv on cell phones --- doesn't mean that there is a viable business model for it.

I'm glad to know we agree on something.
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post #24 of 28
Okay, I am a Korean currently living in the Seoul metro area. I used the first iPhone during my stay in NYS. It seems that the posts here are somewhat incorrect, so let me have the pleasure to clarify.

1. There is a lot of interest in iPhone
There are 700k iPod users here in Korea, and KT expects many of them to switch to using the newly announced iPhone. The negotiation between KT and Apple has been going for a very long time, like 1.5+ years. It was only last Friday that Apple gave the go from its Palo Alto office, and KT went into gear and had its website open for orders. Currently, there seems to be more than 20,000~30,000 pre-orders starting from yesterday via KT's Phonestore site. KT expects at max sales to reach half a mil, or at around 100k units. I think it will reach 200k~300k on average before the new iPhone gets released mid 2010.

2. Korean Domestic Phones s@ck
Before I returned to the States for graduate degree, the phones here in Korea were pretty top notch stuff. DMB is a good technological example. Alas, with the iPhone and advancement of smartphones, Korean telcos as well as Samsung/LG etc failed to catch up. Everyone (besides KT) wanted status quo, as they were all making much money. Korean users got frustrated at half baked attempts at smart phones, and yeah, stupid Korean regulators want just about anything with foreign made stuffs they meddled in this and that.

When the Korean version of FCC wanted to check out Location Based Service of the iPhone a few months ago, it seemed like a huge blocking attempt on the side of Korean telcos (of course, besides KT) and handset makers.
They wanted Apple to maintain a server so that information gathered from iPhone users will not head out of the country. Then Korean customers revolted: you should have seen how tenacious the net users were tracking down the meeting schedule and all regarding the K-FCC review. It seems that this social pressure put K-FCC on alert, and they decided to let Apple do its thing. BTW, K-FCC did say that someone/somebody notified them that Apple was going against the law by servicing LBS based services here in Korea (e.g. Find My iPhone) WITHOUT consulting the K-FCC (guess who would tell a lazy regulation body about such technical problems?).

In any case, with pressure from the public and the media, iPhone has finally been announced for launch starting this Sat (11/28). Thank goodness. And yes, Korean telcos (KT graciously excluded) S@@K and LG, Samsung SHOULD be ashamed of themselves.

3. Last, Grey iPhone Market DID EXIST
With the recent official announcement, the grey iPhone market would now result in a complete collapse. However, a grey market did exist. With iPhone getting Korean telecommunications approval a few months ago, anyone with an unlocked iPhone could sign up for services from either SKT or KT. Many people (I am guessing a few hundred) with more than a thousand USD to burn bought unlocked iPhones from Hong Kong and Australia etc. I knew that this day would come and held out. Thank goodness for that.

4. Give Us More
So, there you have it. Now you can buy an iPhone here in Korea. I would like to see more foreign makes, especially Motorola's Droid and HTC's huge screen Android devices etc. Let them eat Sammy's sandwich, which I don't care. Sammy, SKT and LG all had their day. It is time for consumers to get their day.
post #25 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

I wonder if Al Gore negotiated this deal. He and Laura Ling.

Him and Ling, Ling, or is it Ding, Ding.
post #26 of 28
This iPhone was released today in S. Korea. I went to the store excited to get one. I was turned away. Why? I'm an expat. They told me, "내국인만, 외국인 안돼요." (Translation: Koreans only. Foreigners cannot [purchase one].)
post #27 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by sweaver View Post

This iPhone was released today in S. Korea. I went to the store excited to get one. I was turned away. Why? I'm an expat. They told me, "내국인만, 외국인 안돼요." (Translation: Koreans only. Foreigners cannot [purchase one].)

Did you post this on the MacRumors site yesterday? If not, someone stated that yet there are others there saying that as long as you are willing to pay the deposit you are good to go.

The turn out looks to be quite good. Considering the number of smartphone users it seems much better than both Japan and Chinas turn out.
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post #28 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Did you post this on the MacRumors site yesterday? If not, someone stated that yet there are others there saying that as long as you are willing to pay the deposit you are good to go.

Nope, twas not I. There are a number of expats complaining already. I looked through the comments over at MacRumors. They're not discussing the purchase of a new phone with service. Rather, they are talking about using existing service with an "approved" iPhone previously purchased.

KT Telecom is known for being unfriendly towards foreigners. Their policies set limits on the plans foreigners can select from (i.e., below a certain threshold of monthly payments), and the iPhone plans are above this threshold. Of course, not all foreigners are created equal in the eyes of KT Telecom. Hence, permanent residents have a higher threshold than others. The shopkeepers seem unaware of this though. They simply lump all foreigners together and refuse them service. (I had to visit 6 different shops before someone would sell me a pre-paid phone. Then, after the time ran out, they refused to refill it. I really wish the Korean government would punch the telecoms here in the nuts.)

Who knows, maybe I'll get lucky and find a shop willing to skirt the rules and sell me one anyway.
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