South Korea regulators have given iPhone sales a green light in this gadget-hungry Asian nation. The move by the Korea Communications Commission clears the way for the country’s second-largest carrier to offer service plans for the popular handset.
While recent interest has been focused on China, Apple has long wanted into the South Korean market, where young tech-saavy consumers might flock to the iconic cell phone. South Korea’s government, however, has had long-standing barriers to foreign competition with home-grown handset makers, such as Samsung and LG Electronics, the world’s second and third-largest cell phone makers. Reports say 93 percent of South Koreans subscribe to cell phone services.
The government commission’s approval followed a review of all devices providing location-based services.
Although both the nation’s leading carier SK Telecom and second-place KT are said to be in talks with Apple to sell iPhones, No. 2 KT is expected to unveil four iPhone service plans by the end of November, according to a South Korean news report.
Yon Hap News Agency reported Wednesday KT will introduce four service plans Nov. 28. The plans will include monthly fees ranging from $29 to $82, according to the publication, citing anonymous sources. The plans offer up to 3GB of data transfer, text messaging, video and mobile to mobile calling.
SK Telecom is concerned KT could disrupt the market by attracting young customers drawn to the iPhone.
In related news, China Mobile chairman Wang Jianzhou said the nation’s No. 1 wireless carrier is still talking with Apple about contracting to sell the iPhone. Jianzhou said the iPhone would help diversify its product lineup and attract younger customers. China Mobile has 475 million subscribers.
The iPhone recently began selling in China via a non-exclusive agreement between Apple and China Unicom, China Mobile’s rival. China Unicom has 141 million subscribers in a nation with an estimated 700 million subscribers. Apple’s iPhone is reported to be a big hit with that country’s citizens, despite a number of setbacks.