updated 04:15 pm EDT, Thu April 1, 2010
iPhone sells as well as Samsung's best in Korea
South Korean sales of the iPhone are moving as quickly as Samsung's flagship Omnia II, separate statments. KT on Thursday said it had sold about 400,000 iPhones in the past four months, or about 100,000 per month since January. The rate was enough to come on par with Samsung's Omnia II, which Samsung earlier this week said had sold 600,000 units so far in six months of being in subscribers' hands.
The iPhone's activation rate is now up to 4,000 new users a day and is disproportionately faster than what the Windows Mobile-based Omnia II has achieved. While KT is so far the only carrier with the iPhone in Korea, Samsung's sales are also spread across all three major carriers in the Asian country, including LG Telecom and SK Telecom. It's not known how many iPhone buyers have switched carriers to get access.
Samsung has said little about why the Omnia II has been its best-selling smartphone, saying only that customers are happy with the performance and post-sale service. KT was more vocal and noted that a typical iPhone user was much more eager to use data, as the average owner used 44 times more data than any other phone in Korea.
Researchers at KT also credited the iPhone with likely spurring on the entire Korean technology industry. It should help boost IT in the country to the equivalent of $2.31 billion in three years and would have helped spark a $415.49 million mobile app developer community as well. iPhone accessories and devices themselves may represent $230.32 million.
The Korean cellular market was considered insular until last year. Laws requiring common app platforms and permission for location-based service had in many cases prevented foreign phones like the BlackBerry and iPhone lines from reaching the area, effectively giving LG and Samsung a near-duopoly. These rules have been eased and have also helped Android get a foothold in a smartphone market once dominated by Symbian and Windows Mobile.