Government-propagated, monopoly-driven, and ignorant of outside technology, South Korea’s mobile business is stagnant. It has suffered the lumbering steps of its giants: LG and Samsung, who bake bread, run hotels, and make German look-alikes cars better than any electronic company in the world. Finally in 2009, the market opened to foreign manufacturers in 2009 and by November, KT are expected to ship the iPhone and other smart-phones to eager customers.
Meanwhile, KT, who long have held onto the profitable home telephone reins will have to change strategies as the real booming businesses: WiMAX, internet telephony, and data phones are threatening their bottom line. The Korean market, however, has been awash with gaudy plastic phones, with decent cameras that are only good for making noise and taking photos.
November’s launch of foreign products will reshape this country’s own major players; if they cannot adapt by creating competitive products, they will sink in their home market. Currently, finding your own phone number, accessing music, or finding basic settings is arduous. This isn’t decades ago when Korea opened its doors to expensive, but ultimately better automobiles. In 2009, Korean Phones are far more expensive than nearly any rival and are a fraction as useful.
In this environment, the iPhone is already making an impact [Reuters].
Friday, 25 September, I attended an LG design survey for new touchscreen phones which highlighted amazing features such as zoom, pan, and typing. There are obvious hardware advances in the pipes, but overall, the company have no clue about user interaction. When the iPhone and other smartphones — consumer items which have constantly incubated new products in the market they bred — arrive in South Korea, LG and Samsung had better have a counter measure.
A glance down the street will reveal Samsung’s strengths: imitation. In November, look for many more ‘me too’ Korean handsets to bolster those who opted for the cheap Samsung Mercedes-Benz look-alikes. November, LG and Samsung are purported to dish out their own new designs onto the most competitive market this country has ever seen. My prediction? Samsung iiPhone; LG ApplePhone.