Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Will Korea Ever Get the iPhone?

Apple head honcho Steve Jobs just announced the brand-spanking new 3G Apple iPhone, and it looks quite nice. NY Times story on the announcement here. One quibble on the story, though -- it ends with:
The only major countries without an iPhone distribution agreement are Russia and China.

Does that mean the iPhone has a distribution agreement with South Korea? Or that Korea is not considered a "major country"? Apparently the second instance is true, and Korea is not getting the iPhone yet (last paragraph in that link).

For geopolitics, I agree that Korea is not a big fish. But for telecom and mobile services? Please. The Korean market is so much bigger than China's. The Korean market is a major one.

It gets tiring dealing with dimwitted editors in New York or wherever that don't get this. Like how everyone squeals about how big the China movie market is growing, when Korea's is well over twice as big. Of course, at the rate China is growing (assuming you believe their statistics)(which I do not), and the rate Korea has stopped growing, China could overtake the Korean movie market in three or four years. But still... the point is Korea has been a bigger movie market than China for a decade (which, considering China's past, essentially means that Korea has always been a bigger movie market than China).


Brendon Carr (Korea Law Blog) said...

There are over 600 million Chinese mobile telephone subscribers. How can you say Korea is a larger phone market?

Mark Russell said...

> How can you say Korea is
> a larger phone market?

Because I'm a moron.

Yeah, I really overstated things. But the point I should have made is, the average person in China has an extremely low-end handset and a very low average usage fee.

Although Korea has just 40 million mobile phone users, Koreans tend to ring up very high monthly charges on their phones.

Flavia Watch said...

that's right. read here (
& especially here (

companies test out their latest headphone sets in south korea before they release them to the global market

daninbusiness said...

Just seems like a technology issue rather than anything else.

South Korea, for better or worse, has standardized on CDMA technology, which is incompatible with the GSM-based technologies which are common in the rest of Europe, Asia, and approximately 1/2 of the US market.

Apple seems to have standardized on a technology which can be introduced throughout the GSM/WCDMA/HSPDA world - that is not compatible with CDMA/EV-DO tech.

Bad for Korea, bad for Sprint or Verizon customers in the US, but that's how it goes; for a long time the CDMA-based solutions on Verizon & Sprint offered faster data rates than one could get with GSM-based solutions.

Samsung and LG are invested in both CDMA and GSM solutions, so they have a more comprehensive worldwide presnence; I think Apple was (no pun intended) going for the lowest hanging fruit by offering a GSM-based solution - it's now the same part to be sold the world over.