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[Op-Ed] Next Month`s Phone

Posted November. 25, 2009 08:47,   


More than 30,000 people have applied to buy Apple’s iPhone, which will go on sale in Korea through KT, just in three days. Many Koreans who have used the music player “iPod Touch” have complained of the iPhone’s absence in the country. Rumors since last year had said the iPhone would be launched next month but the release never materialized. Because of this, the iPhone was dubbed “next month`s phone.”

The iPhone was launched in June 2007 in the United States and took over the world smartphone market in July last year after being transformed into a 3G phone. A smartphone is called as “a computer in the palm of a hand” due to its PC-like capabilities such as Internet access. In places such as college campuses, coffee shops and fast food restaurants, which provide wireless Internet access, smart phone users exchange data for free. When wireless Web access is unavailable, users exchange data through calls. If users get free access to the Internet, the revenue of telecommunication companies declines.

A smartphone is more of a handheld computer than a mobile phone, so the availability of dedicated software is the key to competitiveness. iPhone users access the online App Store for iPhone software to choose from more than 100,000 free or paid software programs and download them. The store provides software ranging from games to tutorial programs. Dreamwiz President Lee Chan-jin, who claims to be an iPhone advocate, said, “Korean software developers have already uploaded dozens of software on the store’s Web site,” adding, “Apple has provided a valuable opportunity for Korean software developers.”

The iPhone’s ability to multilayered messages has shown the shortcomings of Korea’s telecommunication policies. While dedicating its efforts to Wibro technology that allows Internet access in moving vehicles, the Korean government has ignored the development of wireless Internet technology. The government should also reflect on whether it made the same mistake in other sectors. The popularity of the iPhone has also driven home that mobile carriers and handset makers must satisfy consumer needs and demand. Competition in the domestic smartphone market has begun. Following Oz Omnia, a Google phone will be launched in Korea next year. This will not only give more choices to consumers but also expand business opportunities for wireless service providers.

Editorial Writer Hong Kwon-hee (konihong@donga.com)