South Korean iPhone Launch Could Change Regional Cellphone Market, Analyst Says
Saturday’s South Korean iPhone launch could greatly affect the region’s cellphone market. Per wireless carrier KT’s advance order of 53,000 unites, a number described as “phenomenal” by Prudential analyst Hwang Sung-jin. “The iPhone’s release will definitely stiffens competition for local companies such as Samsung and LG,” Sung-jin adds.
Samsung and LG presently hold combined control of more than 80% of the Korean cellphone market, consisting of about 47 million devices. The companies have in the past benefited from government protections, such as one rule requiring phones to have software supporting a South Korean wireless platform. That barrier no longer exists, and the iPhone is considered enough of a threat that SK Telecom is cutting plan prices for the Omnia II, Samsung’s flagship smartphone.
No LG prices are being altered however, and the iPhone is said to have some deficiencies next to its Korean-made rivals. Central among these is the lack of a mobile TV tuner, as watching live TV is popular with Korean cellphone owners. “That’s going to be a really weak point for iPhone in the Korean market,” says Shinhan Investment analyst J.D. Ha.