The launch of the iPhone in South Korea was a success. The numbers tell how Apple's phone managed to break through in one of the most technically difficult countries in the world. During the first weekend of availability with KT Corp, the second largest mobile operator in the country, 65 thousand terminals were sold, a huge amount considering that the smartphones in use in the Asian nation are only 400 thousand, about 1% of the total phones in circulation. In practice, iPhone in a single weekend has increased the smart phone market by 16%.
That the numbers totaled by iPhones in Korea could be excellent, it was immediately understood that 40 thousand customers had already pre-ordered it when the terminal prices and operator tariffs were disclosed. Then long queues formed on Saturday waiting for sales to open. According to information released by some local media and press agencies, thousands of people have tried to grab the first thousand iPhones, available a few hours earlier than the official launch; the first in line waited as long as 26 hours before they could get their hands on the phone.
The arrival of the iPhone in Korea represented a shock factor for the static world of local cellular telephony.
The two main players in the sector are, as is known, LG and Samsung. In their hands there are 80% of the market and this thanks to some regulations imposed by the government unique for Korea and as such not convenient to be satisfied, for reasons of economy of scale, by other international mobile phone manufacturers. The arrival of the iPhone was made possible by the loosening of the regulatory provisions, which are now milder and less binding.
The quasi-monopoly situation has allowed, however, LG and Samsung to control the market also in terms of average phone costs. A smartphone in Korea costs, or rather, it was almost double the cost of the iPhone. Apple and KT Corp. offering iPhone for free when you buy it with a plan of 75 euros per month or 200 euros with a plan of 25 euros per month, have already forced Samsung and its partners to reduce the price of the Omnia from 600 euros to 200 euros when included in particular plans.
Several market players hope that the success of the iPhone in a country that has a great passion for technological innovations and willing to spend without too many problems to have them, can open the smartphone market stopped by a paltry, as mentioned 1%.
KT Corp plans to sell between 100 thousand and 500 thousand iPhones, figures that in the light of the first weekend seem to be prudent.