KT claims 500,000 iPhones

We've seen earlier how Korea, a laggard in smartphones, woke up with the help of iPhone* and the arrival of Android**. Now "smartphone" and "apps" pop up anywhere anytime, relegating "ubiquitous" or "well-being" to corny conversations. Among recent developments :

. KT announced today that it sold its 500,000th iPhone four months after launch, and that it's now batting a steady 4,000 new ones every day. Good score, but Samsung's Omnia 2 (Windows Mobile) will remain ahead (600,000th handset sold yesterday). Yet, Apple reaches beyond the smartphone, and KT estimated its market for apps, contents and software at KRW 470 bn, plus KRW 230 bn for accessories (KRW 700 bn means about USD 600 M these days). Unsurprisingly, early bird iPhone caught heavy mobile internet users : 44 times more than other KT customers (includes the majority of non users).

. Last month, Samsung made the headlines by snatching Android trademark for hardware in Korea, preventing rivals from branding any Android gizmo beyond the OS. LG's "Andro-1", an horizontal slider with keyboard sold exclusively by KT, definitely sounds borderline. Andro-1 itself is borderline : even if it came after Motorola's MotoROI (2.0) and the Samsung SHW-M100S (2.1), it runs on Android 1.5...

. In a country plagued with voice / email phishing scams, or even North Korean e-blitzkriegs, the brutal success of smartphones was bound to cause a considerable number of attacks much scarier than Rick Astley***. Competition among crimefigthers is quickly going wireless, and local expert AhnLab released new versions of its star antivirus : V3 Mobile for Android and V3 Mobile+ for iPhone. But operators don't want netcos to claim their own territories and the next day, mobile leader SK Telecom decided to offer McAfee antivirus to all its Android subs. Besides, even if for the moment the bulk of smartphone users are over 18, adult content is also becoming an issue...

Local internet powerhouses Naver and Daum don't want to be followers - Daum even planned to equip all its staff with iPhones ahead of the launch. Both are seizing opportunities and multiplying applications, and the coopetition between Korean netcos and MNOs will really become interesting.

mot-bile 2010

* "iPhone rocks Seoul and sacred cows"
** "SK Telecom pushes Android" followed by "Wal-Mart's Vudu Trance - home entertainment and apps"
*** see "iPhone worm raises its ugly head : Rick Astley"

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