Anti-North Korea comedy "The Interview" scheduled to be released December 25
Despite previously calling a movie soon to be released by Sony Pictures an "act of war," North Korea has denied any involvement in the seemingly-ongoing studio hack. An anonymous diplomat from the country has refuted state involvement in the data theft, and claims that North Korea has "publicly declared that it would follow international norms banning hacking and piracy."
NAND in devices not universally faulty, or to blame for some units crashing
After a night of sensationalist reports from South Korea, news agencies elsewhere in the world reported that the iPhone 6 Plus 128GB was likely going to be subject to a recall. MacNN started looking into the newest claims of iPhone 6 Plus problems early this morning, in parallel with an ongoing investigation that started last week about app library size causing device instability. Despite reports of phones being bent either accidentally or on purpose, we can report that there is no reason for a recall at this time over faulty NAND memory, or any other cause.
Device outpacing last month's interest in Galaxy Note 4
South Korean preorders for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have surpassed 100,000, and are vastly outpacing last month's preorders for the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, according to the Wall Street Journal. The country's three biggest carriers -- SK Telecom, KT Corp, and LG UPlus -- opened up preorders last Friday. KT says it received 10,000 preorders within a minute, and 50,000 after 30 minutes. UPlus, a first-time iPhone carrier, received 20,000 orders in 20 minutes. SK Telecom isn't giving out hard numbers, but says that its first and second batches of preorders are already booked and that it's now starting on a third.
Companies ordered to make changes to refund systems
South Korea's Fair Trade Commission has ordered Apple and Google to change their app store policies, according to the Korea Herald. Apple will have to change its default no-refund policy, and send out notifications to App Store users whenever it changes contract terms; Google will have to devise a refund scheme for Google Play that can be tailored to developers' individual policies. The two companies may also have to address other "unfair provisions," though the FTC's announcement doesn't specify what those might be.
Third major gas-related incident at Samsung facilities in 18-month period
Another employee at a Samsung manufacturing facility has died in an accident, following a gas leak by a malfunctioning safety system. An unnamed 52-year old worker at a plant owned by a Samsung manufacturing partner suffocated after the safety monitors wrongly detected a fire, releasing carbon dioxide into the local area to extinguish the non-existent flames.
Newspaper states removal due to duplicate article about anti-Samsung film
South Korean newspaper NewDaily Biz has allegedly caved to pressure from electronics manufacturer Samsung over an article about the anti-Samsung film entitled Another Promise. The president of the newspaper, Park Jung-kyu, ordered an article removed that featured information about celebrities funding screenings of the film after complaints surfaced, supposedly from Samsung executives. Texts sent from Park intended for Samsung suggest the electronics company pressed for the article's removal.
iPhone discounts extremely rare
Apple's planned Lunar New Year sale has already begun in east Asia, carrying with it some rare discounts. Above all are price drops on the iPhone, something the company almost never does. In Hong Kong, the iPhone 5s, 5c, and 4S have all been marked down by HK$ 390, for example bringing the price of a 16GB 5s down to HK$ 5,198 ($670 US).
May be supported by recent rumors
A "first-tier display supplier" is working on 12.9-inch Retina displays for an iPad due to launch in early 2014, claims the Korea Times. The publication cites an official at one of Apple's Korean suppliers. Based on Apple's known partners in the region, that implies either LG Display or Samsung, either of whom would be large enough to support an iPad launch.
Local companies continue to hold greatest share
Together the iPhone and the iPad currently represent about 14 percent of South Korean mobile devices, according to new tracking data from Flurry. In all, there are about 33 million smartphones and tablets in use in the country. Most of these are made by local firms; Samsung has a 60 percent share, while LG is in second at 15 percent. Pantech -- a marginal device maker in the US -- controls a 10 percent share in its home country. The remaining 1 percent in Korea is split between all other Android device makers.
Subsequent rollout phase set for November 1st
The iPhone 5s and 5c will launch in over 28 more countries on October 25th, Apple has announced. Italy, Russia, and Spain have been identified as the main launch regions that day, but the list also includes countries like Austria, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Sweden, and Thailand. On November 1st, still another 12-plus countries will be added, including India, Mexico, and Turkey.
Asks for 'fair and reasonable' decision on possible ban of Samsung goods
The South Korean government has issued a statement expressing worries about the Obama administration veto of an ITC ban on some Apple products. The Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy says that the decision could harm Samsung's patent rights, and that it will be paying close attention on Friday, when the ITC is expected to rule on a possible ban of some of Samsung's Galaxy devices. "We hope to see a fair and reasonable decision on the matter," the ministry states.
Could boost downloads up to twice current LTE speeds
The next-generation iPhone -- believed to be the iPhone 5S -- could support LTE Advanced, an anonymous official with SK Telecom tells the Korea Times. SK is said to have approached Apple with the idea instead of the other way around, but the two parties are nevertheless said to be "in the middle of negotiations." The Times suggests that Apple will probably use a Qualcomm chip to support the standard.
HDTVs with 4K resolution, Smart TV features out in Korea next month
Samsung is preparing to launch 55-inch and 65-inch models of its UHD TV sets next month. Starting off in Korea, the new models will go on sale in June, with a view to releasing it in other markets shortly afterwards, with the two differently-sized 4K-capable TVs following the 85-inch S9 the company released in the country at the beginning of this year.
Hydrofluoric acid incident re-occurs in hazardous processor factory
An incident at a Samsung production facility has seen another set of employees injured. The leak of hydrofluoric acid gas at the processor plant in Hwaseong, Korea is the second incident of its kind in a four-month period, with the previous incident taking place at the same factory with the same leaked gas causing injury.
Revision for Korean carrier KT has smaller 5-inch display
A version of the LG Optimus G with features borrowed from the Optimus G Pro is heading to Korea. The Optimus GK has a five-inch 1080p Full HD IPS display with a pixel density of 440ppi, and though it has a smaller screen than its Pro equivalent, it keeps most of the internal specifications the same, just as the Optimus G Pro released specifically for Japan.
Rest of World release of curved HDTV expected within months
LG is putting curved OLED televisions on sale earlier than first thought. The electronics producer is opening up its 55-inch EA9800 to pre-orders in Korea today, with shipments in the country expected in June. The HDTV's release outside of Korea will apparently be announced in the coming months, along with regional pricing.
News site's Twitter account, website taken down
In its latest cyber assault, the Anonymous collective has reportedly broken into the Chinese-hosted North Korean news site Uriminzokkiri.com and pilfered 15,000 user records -- including user names, email addresses, birthdates and hashed passwords. To prove the intrusion, the group has included details for six users, including three North Koreans, and three people from China. One of the identified Korean users had an email address from the Korea Electric Power Company.
Court ruled legal protection in parliament does not extend online
A South Korean politician has lost his seat in parliament, due to methods used in exposing corruption within electronics giant Samsung. Roh Hoe-Chan, member of the Progressive Justice Party, had broken communication laws by publishing transcripts of conversations gained through wiretapping.
South Korean suffers second-degree burns to thigh
A man in South Korea was injured on Saturday after his Samsung Galaxy Note exploded. The 55-year-old man apparently suffered second-degree burns to his right thigh, after the smartphone and spare battery he stored in his pants pocket suddenly ruptured and caused damage to his body and clothing.
Pair of hydrofluoric acid leaks not reported to authorities
Korean news agencies are reporting that electronics giant Samsung is covering up a hydrogen fluoride tank gas leak that killed one worker, and hospitalized four in a South Korean plinth. The incident began last night at 11PM local time, when a large tank of hydrofluoric acid started leaking. Initially stopped by workers, the patch gave out at about 5AM local time, releasing 10 liters of aerosolized acid to the environment. Samsung did not report the incident to local authorities until 3PM, nearly 14 hours after the initial incident, and an hour after a worker for the maintenance crew died.
13-megapixel rear camera capable of 30-fps 1080p video
Pantech has revealed its first smartphone with a full HD display, succeeding the 5-inch Vega S5 the company unveiled in July. The Vega No. 6 phablet has a 1920x1080-resolution IPS screen measuring 5.9-inch diagonally, which is claimed by Pantech be the first in South Korea of it's size to be able to use an LTE data connection.
Shifts efforts to separate class-action lawsuit
A group of 29 Korean iPhone owners have withdrawn their location-tracking lawsuit against Apple in order to put the group's weight behind a different suit, reports say. The first case was filed against Apple in 2011, claiming that the company was enabling tracking without consent. Now, however, the group is backing down after failing to accumulate enough evidence, according to Korea's Yonhap News Agency.
Filter to also block pornography, harmful information
Teenagers in South Korea may be required to have censorship software installed onto their mobile phones, if government plans come to fruition. The proposals would see profanity and pornography blocked from view on smartphones, and is hoped to curb "illegal and harmful information" being sent to teenagers in the country.
Company could be forced to slow expansion
Samsung is "likely" to postpone building a new semiconductor plant in Hwaseong, South Korea because of Apple, according to DigiTimes. The facility, known as Line-17, was originally expected to start volume production in the first quarter of 2014, but DigiTimes suggests that Samsung may be worried about losing some of its orders for Apple processors. Sources tell the website that Samsung will no longer be the only manufacturer of the A-series chips used in iPhones and iPads; currently these are produced at a Samsung plant in Austin, Texas.
Fight over island chain extends into iOS 6
The South Korean government is demanding that Apple change the name of a chain of islets in iOS 6 Maps, the Korea Times reports. The chain is known as Dokdo in Korean, but Apple also lists the English (Liancourt Rocks) and Japanese (Takeshima) names for the land, reflecting the fact that both Korea and Japan dispute the land's ownership. "We protested to Apple’s Korean unit that, because Dokdo is clearly an integral part of our territory, the new reference is unacceptable and it should be marked as the Korean name of Dokdo wherever it is searched for," a Korean foreign ministry official comments. Previously Apple relied on data from Google, which uses just the Korean and English names, but is still believed to be unacceptable to the Korean government.
Search engine giant falls to Google, local competitor competition
Yahoo said on Friday that it was exiting the South Korean market, citing challenges in the market and stiff competition in the area. Founded in 1997, Yahoo Korea has around 250 employees who will now be looking for work. Localized online portal services will be terminated before the end of the year, with all the corporate assets moved or sold by February 2013.
Legal war continues to expand
South Korean authorities have reportedly opened in investigation into Samsung's business practices, following antitrust complaints from rival Apple. The iPhone maker has accused its Korean rival of abusing its dominant position in the wireless technology market.
Companies awarded small damages
A South Korean court has ruled that both Apple and Samsung are guilty of patent infringement, bringing an end to two lawsuits filed last year. A three-judge panel outlined the split decision, which finds Apple guilty of infringing two Samsung patents and, conversely, Samsung has been found guilty of infringing one Apple patent. Both companies will be affected by product injunctions, though the monetary damage awards are minuscule.
Unique LTE frequencies may create problems
The two current iPhone carriers in South Korea, KT and SK Telecom, are in talks with Apple for LTE support in the next-generation iPhone, according to anonymous officials with the carriers in contact with the Korea Times. The underlying issue is that while the new iPhone is almost guaranteed to support LTE, KT and SK Telecom use separate frequencies for their LTE networks. KT wants Apple to support 1.8GHz, but SK wants 800MHz. SK reportedly sent an official to Apple's Cupertino headquarters earlier this week hoping to secure a deal.
Office closure follows Brazilian market withdrawl
HTC has closed its offices in Seoul following lackluster handset sales in South Korea. The Taiwanese phone manufacturer claims the efforts are to "streamline operations" and to focus on selling its One range of handsets to customers in markets where HTC is more popular. It is not known how many employees will lose their jobs at the offices, although reports suggest HTC is encouraging affected employees to apply for other in-house vacancies.
Search giant may react to Galaxy Nexus ban
Google has allegedly vowed to back Samsung in the Korean handset maker's ongoing legal battles with Apple, unnamed sources have told the Korea Times. Although Google so far has taken an indirect role in defending device makers that utilize its Android platform, the recent injunction focused on Galaxy Nexus sales, handed down in a California court, is said to have pushed the search giant to deepen its involvement.
Korean Electric error stops plant lines temporarily
Samsung Display suffered a power outage at an LCD manufacturing facility, potentially costing the company millions of dollars in productivity. The power interruption, caused by an employee at state-run Korea Electric Power Corp, forced all production lines to grind to a halt. Yonhap News Agency reports that the seemingly simple glitch had an exceedingly disruptive effect on plant operations.
Second-gen R model adds 4.3
Samsung has unveiled the Galaxy R Style, a Korea-bound handset that appears to serve as a successor to the current Galaxy R. The device packs midrange features, including a 4.3-inch display with 960x540 resolution, a 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 processor, and a five-megapixel camera.
Search engine result restriction alleged, evidence sought
The Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) has raided Google's offices in Seoul, Korea on Monday. This is the third raid on the search giant's Korean headquarters in just over a year. The KFTC is continuing an Android-related antitrust investigation spearheaded by two local search engine's complaints about Android tampering with search results, favoring Google businesses and advertising providers.
First LG handset running ICS with 2GB of RAM
LG has unveilled the Optimus LTE II in Korea. Successor to the Optimus LTE and other Optimus variants, the handset claims to be the world's first smartphone to be released with 2GB of RAM, shortly before the Samsung Galaxy S III reaches Japan in its own RAM-boosted state.
Will offer new units instead of refurbs
Apple Korea has agreed to change the way it handles replacing defective iPads and iPods in the country, reports say. Until recently, people bringing in faulty hardware would typically get a refurbished device if a replacement was needed. Apple has been persuaded by South Korea's Fair Trade Commission, however, to follow local laws, and will now replace defective iPads and iPods with entirely new units for a period of up to one month after purchase.
iPad comes to 12 more countries
This Friday marks another set of expansions for iPhone and iPad sales. The iPhone 4S is now available through another five regional US carriers, including Alaska Communications, Appalachian Wireless, GCL, Cellcom, and nTelos. The first regional carrier to get the iPhone was C Spire, which joined national options AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint.
Samsung complains, refuses to negotiate
KT, Korea's largest wire-line operator and Internet services provider, has begun limiting web access to Samsung's Smart TVs. KT took the step a day after it warned Korean TV makers that it could not give Internet-enabled TVs a "free ride" over its network. The service provider wants compensation for the alleged heavy traffic the TVs create, claiming it slows down Internet service to its other customers.
Parallels Black Friday offerings in US
As promised, Apple has launched special Lunar New Year online sales in a handful of countries. These are notably similar to the company's Black Friday deals in the US, which were modest in scope. At the Hong Kong Apple Store, for instance, Apple is offering about 8 percent off Wi-Fi iPads, or 6 to 7 percent off 3G models.
Claims it won't push for more local marketshare
Samsung has decided to forego seeking an injunction against the iPhone 4S in South Korea, says local newspaper The Chosun Ilbo. The company reportedly debated "until the last moment" on whether to file, having already made such efforts in Australia, France, Italy, and Japan. The 4S went on sale in Korea on Friday.
One of many Friday launches
Today's South Korean iPhone 4S launch was met with long lines, at least at KT's flagship store in downtown Seoul, says local news agency Yonhap. There a lineup is said to have formed before sunrise. SK Telecom is also putting iPhones on sale however, marking an end to KT's exclusivity. The first 100 people to pre-order with SK were treated to a midnight event where phones were activated and Korean hip-hop acts performed.
Full HD projector with 1,250-lumen lamp
LG has introduced a new projector, the CF3DAT, that will be headed to customers in the company's home country of Korea. The projector features Cinema 3D technology, enabling users to view 3D content in HD resolution when wearing inexpensive polarized glasses rather than relying on more expensive active-shutter frames.
Google CEO Schmidt to meet with Samsung, KT, LG
Google Chairman Eric Schmidt will be in Seoul this week to meet with executives from South Korea's leading telecom and personal electronics companies. According to a source at The Korean Times, Schmidt will announce a number of significant investments in Korea, including a possible local Internet Data Center. Until recently, Google has struggled to establish itself in the market against Korean search companies Naver and Daum.
Restrictions may have had little benefit
The South Korean government has lifted a ban on iOS games, reports say. Although the App Store has been accessible in Korea for some time, games were kept out because of rules making it illegal to sell titles not approved by the country's Game Ratings Board. Some limits began falling away in July, though, paving the way toward today's decision.
Fines spread between ten companies
The South Korean government has fined 10 LCD makers for allegedly fixing prices for display components. The list of companies includes all of the major players, including Samsung, LG Display and AU Optronics. Total fines have been set at 195 billion won (~$173 million USD), though Samsung faces the largest single fine of 97.2 billion won (~$86 million USD).
Revives Tech Talk concept
Apple has unveiled plans for an iOS 5 Tech Talk World Tour. Apple experts are scheduled to visit nine cities during the tour, including Berlin, London, Rome, Beijing, Seoul, São Paolo, New York City, Seattle, and Austin. Events will start in Berlin on November 2nd and end in Austin on January 23rd. Registration for January 13th's New York City event is already full.
Hopes to block Apple on home turf
Samsung is "looking into filing a motion in a Korean court to ban the sale of the iPhone 4S in Korea," according to Samsung mobile communications chief Shin Jong-kyun. The executive spoke to reporters in Hong Kong on Wednesday. "We haven't limited our legal actions to certain countries," Shin elaborates. "We intend to take legal action in as many countries as possible with all the patents we can use."
Business, legal issues being kept separate
Samsung is still the main producer for Apple's next-generation mobile processor, the A6, claims an anonymous executive with a South Korea-based Apple supplier. "Apple has been in talks with Samsung over shipment of its A6 quad-core mobile processor (AP) chips to be used in the next iPhone. It appears that Apple clearly has concluded that Samsung remains a critical business partner," the person tells the Korea Times. Samsung is in fact said to be boosting output of A6 chips at a manufacturing plant in Austin, Texas.
Apple-Samsung war now up to 23 lawsuits
Samsung is already preparing to ask for a ban on the iPhone 5 in South Korea, sources for the Korea Times claim. "Just after the arrival of the iPhone 5 here, Samsung plans to take Apple to court here for its violation of Samsung’s wireless technology related patents," a senior Samsung executive is quoted as saying, under promise of anonymity. "For as long as Apple does not drop mobile telecommunications functions, it would be impossible for it to sell its i-branded products without using our patents. We will stick to a strong stance against Apple during the lingering legal fights."
Companies collaborating on smartphone components
Samsung is reportedly building new partnerships with Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo and several other companies to develop chips that will be used in upcoming smartphones. According to a Nikkei report (sub. required), the South Korean company is attempting to decrease its dependence on components produced by competing chip maker Qualcomm.