As I mentioned before, neither LG nor Samsung have a clue how to design mobile phones, but the ever fickle SKT are harbouring thoughts of cranking out Android products from either company rather than selling Apple’s iPhone. On the one hand, Android is a very good platform which I respect; it would make little sense for SKT to pass up the business opportunity afforded by the clever OS. But on the other hand, in serving an LG or Samsung Android, the telecom mogul will only further entrench itself in the quagmire of a stodgy Korean-only oligarchy.
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.
The Korean market isn’t new to corporate promises that the iPhone will appear on its shores. Since the 3G’s 2008 American introduction – a product launch which, along with the App Store, gave Apple’s phone new legs, promises of the phone’s introduction have come in well-timed spurts which are never accompanied by product. The lastest, again from Korea’s largest carrier, KT, suggests that it will supply Apple’s handset -a promise which SK (the nation’s 2nd largest carrier) are also staking. Several hardware hurdles which have held foreign manufacturers from the market have been removed, but still, successfully establishing a niche in what has until now, been a handset dictatorship, is difficult.
That may just be the problem – the dictator has become the prime minister. Samsung pretty much owns the country and is looking for a bigger piece all the time. Theme parks, grocery stores, car parks, life insurance, skyscrapers, mobile carriers, etc.; without Samsung, which accounts for 20% of Korea’s export market, the country would cease to operate.