updated 12:50 pm EST, Tue March 8, 2011
SK Telecom confirms iPhone 4 due March 16
SK Telecom on Tuesday confirmed earlier tips and said it would carry the iPhone 4 on March 16. The Korean carrier will be just the second with an iPhone in the country. Its deal ends KT's technical exclusive for the iPhone, which was dictated mostly by its use of GSM.
The launch comes late into the iPhone 4's lifecycle but could have a major impact on the spread of Android in the country. Although KT has sold over two million iPhones since it began carrying the iPhone 3GS in November 2009, its role as the third-largest carrier has limited its reach and, similar to AT&T's US exclusive, given Android free rein. Local powerhouse Samsung's Galaxy S beat Apple to two million by a month despite having been on sale only since the summer, in part through SK Telecom's larger size and lack of internal device competition.
The move could upset a long-held hegemony from Korean electronic giants over the local phone business. Samsung is believed to have wielded its importance as the backbone of the Korean economy both to give its own phones maximum attention and to punish KT for daring to give Apple greater attention. Samsung won't have the option with the SK Telecom deal present, although LG Telecom for self-evident reasons is unlikely to ever allow an iPhone deal.