iPhone Launches in South Korea


The Apple iPhones have finally hit the South Korean market

It’s about time.

This past weekend, several hundred consumers lined up in Seoul to pick up their pre-ordered smartphones at Apple’s launch event. Some brought their sleeping bags and waited in line for more than 24 hours to get their hands on the prize, while others simply had the product shipped to their home or office. According to the Associated Press, more than 65,000 Apple iPhones have been ordered in South Korea since November 22.

Working with KT Corp., Apple’s South Korean partner, they are going after the smartphone market in the tech-hungry country that is starving for mobile maps, apps and popular games on their cell phones.

This symbolizes a shake-up in the Asian mobile industry, where giants LG Electronics, Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. dominate the local market and smartphones are just a 1% drop in the bucket.

This past weekend was perhaps the beginning of what looks to be an eruption of smartphone mania in a country forced to wait patiently for Apple’s iPhone arrival due to government restrictions with more hurdles than a track meet. China got their iPhones over a month ago, and Japan last year. The iPhone has been out in the U.S. since 2007.

The whole idea that South Koreans are just now getting in the game is surprising when compared to their American counterparts, who assume every cell phone’s a smartphone and there must be something wrong with yours if it’s not.

But in the U.S. we don’t have the hoop jumping and negotiating they do to bring cutting edge technology to the consumer. Here, wireless internet is a right, not a privilege.

With mobile search on the rise, South Korea may be coming into the market at the right time. They are a people who openly embrace technology, especially the younger set. The breakthrough for Apple may be the beginning of something new. Its launch in China did not bring forth the excitement it was looking for, but young South Koreans might be a better marketing target.

While it seems Apple is not openly touting its new-found popularity in South Korea, the company is obviously pleased with the response and is hopeful for some future progress.

Some of its critics are calling the iPhone debut a flash in the pan, while others see it as a competitive starting point in a market that belongs to Asian manufacturing.

Only time will tell which way it goes.


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