Posted by: Ihlwan Moon on September 24, 2009
Korea has never been a priority for Apple when it introduced its innovative products in global markets. But a long delay in the sale of Apple’s iPhone in Korea has been due partly to the country’s restrictive regulations. The Korea Communications Commission on Sept. 23 acknowledged that the delay caused by the “strict application of domestic laws” could not only deprive Koreans of conveniences offered by the iPhone but also put a curb on promoting mobile Internet.
Until last year, both the iPhone and Research in Motion’s BlackBerry were shut out of Korea because of a requirement that all Web-enabled cellphones in the country must use locally-developed software called Wireless Internet Platform for Interoperability, or WIPI. That rule was abolished in April and Research in Motion introduced that month BlackBerry Bold in Korea through SK Telecom, the country’s largest mobile carrier.
Another red tape for the iPhone was a rule that any company collecting location-related data for location-based services must seek approval from the Korean government. The requirement is in place on the ground that such services could infringe upon privacy. Apple has sought clarification about the rule, pointing out that its location-based services such as “FindMyiPhone” use a method making it impossible to identify users.
The Korean commission agreed on Sept. 23 that Apple’s location-based services are unlikely to encroach on privacy. It then allowed Apple to introduce the iPhone without seeking a permit for its location-based services on condition that local mobile carriers offering the iPhone will be responsible for any legal dispute arising from Apple’s location-based services.
KT, Korea’s number-two mobile service provider, says it is negotiating with Apple with an aim to introduce the iPhone in Korea as soon as possible. Apple and KT still need to agree on terms, particularly on the number of handsets and the amount of subsidies KT will offer to promote the iPhone, according to KT officials.