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Posts Tagged ‘South Korea’

Apple (AAPL) fans … I’ve got some good news and some bad news … Which do you want first?

Okay, the bad news …

Apple has agreed to recall a number of iPod Nanos it sold in South Korea last year. While Apple had been swapping out defective (overheating) batteries in units, they have now agreed to replace any of the affected iPod Nanos.

Now for the good news …

Apple’s agreement to replace the iPod Nanos may signal movement on the iPhone to S. Korea front.

iphone-south-koreaHow does an iPod recall relate to iPhone? It could be just a coincidence, but the same tight knit group of bureaucrats who regulate gizmos in S. Korea, are also involved in the iPhone approval process. That process appears to have accelerated in recent months. Apple’s recall is a show of goodwill and it may (pure speculation) also be a a quid-pro-quo (i.e. “Recall the iPods and we won’t roadblock the iPhone network license”) and remove hurdles in the iPhone approval process.

One early obstacle for Apple was S. Korea’s mandatory WiPi protocol*, which caused many OEMs to forego the Korea market. Many speculated that Apple WiPi would be a non-starter for Apple. That was then … this is now. S. Korea telecom regulators have now agreed that WiPi will no longer be mandatory.

iphone-for-south-korea-163x300With the WiPi obstacle removed, Apple now appears to be moving forward with iPhone in South Korea. Apple’s iPhone very recently received a regulatory approval from the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) Radio Research Laboratory. This is not a final approval, as more tests/approvals are necessary, but it is a key step.

Korea Times reports that “industry sources believe that the phones will be on the shelves by the end of the year, with an August release being a remote possibility.”

Who gets the iPhone in S. Korea deal?  Two carriers appear to be in the running – Korea Telecom and SK Telecom. This may not necessarily be an “exclusive” and both carriers might eventually wind up selling iPhone.

*WiPi “Wireless Internet Platform for Interoperability,” is a software standard that the S. Korea mandated in 2005 for all mobile-phone makers planning to deliver Internet access on handsets. WiPi was a gating factor for many non-Korean handsets and in 2009 S. Korea made WiPi “optional.”

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TD iPhone 3G in the works?  Perhaps

iPhonAsia Comment: Given recent telecom developments in China (govt. strongly favoring TD-SCDMA, and delaying W-CDMA), the probability is now good (even money odds) that Apple and China Mobile are collaborating to release a TD iPhone 3G in PRC. This TD iPhone 3G would necessitate a special production run with a chipset to support TD-SCDMA and likely CMMB (China’s mobile TV standard). 

More details re iPhone in China and debate over a TD iPhone > HERE and HERE and HERE

There are many arguments for and against Apple developing TD iPhone 3G. The most compelling “no go” argument is the current lack of public acceptance of TD-SCDMA in China. Despite centralized control of the telecom industry, Chinese consumers still vote with their RMB.  If they ignore TD handsets altogether, then China and China Mobile have a problem.  Yet generous TD handset subsidies plus a TD iPhone 3G (also subsidized) would go a long way towards China’s attainment of their 100 million subscriber benchmark for TD-SCDMA. 

NOTE: Apple would be unlikely to take the risks associated with special build of TD iPhone 3G without minimum pre-sale guarantees … this could simply be in the form of a substantial pre-sale to China Mobile – possibly in the seven figures in terms of units.

Timing for a TD iPhone 3G? No sooner than Sept/Oct 2008 … More likely early 2009 

The earliest possible distribution of an TD iPhone 3G would be late September or early October 2008.  This timeline presumes a deal between Apple and China Mobile was agreed to in principle in Spring (circa April) and contracted soon thereafter.  

A new model iPhone cannot simply be slapped together. This is a six to eighteen month process. With all of Apple’s iPhone engineering – design/dev and test teams – on a fasktrack schedule and with full cooperation of China Mobile engineers, a TD iPhone 3G might be ready six months from “go” (signed contract) date. Hence, if a deal was reached in early April, we are looking at the end of September or early October for release … at the earliest.

Based on ample public and non-public information, iPhonAsia believes that no deal with China Mobile was in place before March 2008.  We are also confident that a deal with China Mobile has now been concluded – most likely in the weeks just before WWDC in mid June 2008.  If a deal was not done until June and/or a more normal product development path is in progress, a more realistic timeframe for appearance of a TD iPhone 3G would be the year end 2008 or early 2009.  An official “iPhone in China” announcement could of course come sooner, yet not likely more than a month or two ahead of any TD iPhone 3G formal launch as China MII would not want to shutdown current TD handset sales (largely China built OEMs).

Steve Jobs June 9, 2008 (post WWDC 2008 interview with CNBC’s Jim Goldman):

“The two big ones we just didn’t have a chance to get closed were Russia and China… and I think you’ll see those happen later this year… we have to get through the regulatory bodies in China, which we’re in the process of doing, and I think later on this year you’ll hear some announcements. Seventy (70) countries is a lot of countries and we’re launching 22 of the biggest on July 11th” 

Given the overwhelming response to the next gen iPhone 3G, Apple and Foxconn, are devoting all of their resources to meeting the demand (Foxconn Building 800,000 iPhones A Week) for the current launch and forthcoming August 22nd launch.  This focus will likely take precedence over any special build of a TD iPhone 3G.  iPhonAsia is therefore setting our sights on an “end of year” 2008 or early 2009 for a TD iPhone 3G launch in the People’s Republic of China.  

SIDEBAR: South Korea Telecom has also been working closely with China Mobile on TD-SCDMA.  Apple has yet to make any announcements in the South Korea market which is largely walled off due to imposition of a WiPi protocol (Wireless Internet Platform for Interoperability), unique to SK. While iPhonAsia has no sources or insights to Apple negotiations in South Korea, it might make sense to address both the South Korea and China markets via a special production run of iPhone 3G.

China’s homegrown 3G may overcome bumpy start

Via ZD Net.co.uk………..

EXCERPTS: A government official said last month that China will issue 3G licences in six months, although this is not confirmed, in which case “TD-SCDMA has a healthy head start to get a customer base locked in before the competition comes”, Natkin said.

…. the soonest we can see WCDMA and CDMA2000 go commercial will be some time in the third quarter of 2009. This gives China Mobile over a year to work through TD-SCDMA’s kinks.

…. China Mobile will also probably have to provide heavy subsidies for handsets “for at least another two years” to entice buyers.

Full article > HERE

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South Korea Wireless Operators in Talks With Nokia, Apple Over Phones

EXCERPT: South Korea’s WIPI – “Wireless Internet Platform for Interoperability,” a software standard that the government mandated in 2005 for all mobile-phone makers planning to deliver Internet access on handsets. 

EXCERPT: “The KCC, the country’s telecommunications regulator, is now considering scrapping the WIPI requirements, amid criticism that maintaining a fixed software standard would mean little when the global industry trend leans toward the adoption of open-source operating systems for wireless platforms.” 

… “It is true that we are currently reevaluating our WIPI policy, including the arguments whether we should continue to mandate handset makers to use the software. The matter will be eventually discussed in our executive committee.”

Full article > HERE 

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EXCERPT: Korea’s isolation in the global IT business was reaffirmed when Steve Jobs announced that the new iPhone will be “affordable for almost everyone” in the world ― but not here. 
“We’re going to be rolling out in 70 countries over the next several months. We are really thrilled with this,” the Apple CEO said to the tune of the Disney song.  “It’s a small world.” … “Next time you are in Malta and you need an iPhone 3G, it will be there for you.”

In the annual conference of Apple, the celebrity American CEO said that the upgraded version of iPhone will be released in 22 nations simultaneously on July 11, and in 70 nations within this year, from Portugal to India and from Japan to Madagascar. 

South Korea was not mentioned during the conference. The presence of two of the world’s largest mobile phone makers ― Samsung and LG ― has encouraged the government to shut its door to foreign-made mobile phones by using non-tariff barriers. Along with iPhone, the Nokia, Blackberry and Sony-Ericsson phones are virtually not allowed to be sold here. 

Full article > HERE

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South Korean CEOs consider Apple’s iPhone as the most inspirational invention of last year.

In a poll of 590 CEOs conducted by the Samsung Economic Research Institute, 26.4 percent of respondents chose the iPhone as the no. 1 item of inspiration among devices included in Time Magazine’s “Inventions of 2007” list. 


The iPhone is not just a mobile phone, but rather a portable multimedia computer that plays music and video, takes pictures, and comes with a built-in mapping system. The CEOs’ choice of the iPhone shows that local business leaders think highly of functional integration and refined design, the research institute said.

A flexible display that can be folded or even rolled up like paper also received a favorable response, gaining 21.8 percent of the vote

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