Thursday, September 24, 2009

iPhone Coming?

Stop me if you have heard this one before, but it is now being reported that the iPhone is going to come to Korea -- really for real this time.

Nothing has been officially announced yet, but speculation is the iPhone will roll out by November, in some sort of partnership with KT. But you will forgive me if I do not hold my breath in anticipation.

First, the positive spin (from the WSJ story):
Industry participants said Wednesday's decision is a big step in changing all that because it will bring more price competition to smartphone handsets and because so much software is available for the iPhone from Apple or developers rather than strictly through phone carriers.

"It basically opens a new world," said Lee Chan-jin, a pioneer of South Korea's software industry and chief executive officer of DreamWiz Inc., a mobile software developer and Web portal. "Korea's cellphone software industry was sick, but I expect it to be reinvigorated with iPhone."

Yes, the Korean telecoms' attempts at creating app stores have been dreadful. So the competition from Apple should be invigorating.

But there is also a negative side to this change. Much like the Blackberry ruling last December, which allowed the Blackberry to be sold in Korea, no regulation or law has been changed to allow for this change in policy; the government bureaucrats just decided to start interpreting the regulations differently.

This, imho, is not a good thing. Doing business should be about following the laws of the land. Transparency. Playing games with government officials is about as opaque and murky as can be. It invites backroom deals, payoffs and all sorts of shenanigans.

So while I appreciate the government regulators taking a step forward, it is frustrating to see just how backward their thinking still is in too many ways.

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