updated 12:35 pm EDT, Mon July 26, 2010
May help locally-made smartphones
The decision to drop South Korea from this week's list of iPhone 4 launches has generated some controversy in the country, says the Wall Street Journal. Apple CEO Steve Jobs actually announced the move on July 16th, saying that it would "take us a little longer to get government approval there." The current Korean iPhone carrier, KT, initially insisted that a July 30th launch was still on track; the company was later forced to admit that the phone would arrive "in the coming months."
Local media has reportedly been in an uproar, accusing Jobs of putting South Korea behind other countries, or outright lying about the delay's causes. Officials in the South Korean government are said to be unhappy, since they have spent the last year removing trade barriers to make it easier to sell foreign phones. Communications regulators, in fact, say that neither Apple nor KT have even submitted the iPhone 4 for approval.
The firestorm is said to be related to South Korea's perception of itself as a leader in high technology. The country has some of the fastest cellular and Internet networks in the world, and is home to Samsung and LG, two of the world's biggest electronics companies. Since the iPhone 3GS arrived nine months ago however local media had described a phenomenon known as "iPhone shock" -- a realization that Korean companies and the public are lagging behind in smartphone technology. Compounding this is news that Windows Phone 7 devices will not be available in the country until 2011, and that Samsung's own Bada-based phones are only shipping in Korea later this year, after their European launch.
Apple's delay will not hurt the company in the long run, analysts say. It may return some edge to Samsung and LG; the former has had success with the new, Android-based Galaxy S smartphone, selling over 500,000 units so far. LG is scheduled to launch several Android devices of its own in the next few weeks, products which will go unanswered by Apple.