iPhone to South Korea: ?????
Since 2005, the South Korean government has required all cellphones sold in the country to support WIPI (Wireless Internet Platform for Interoperability), the country’s cellular middleware platform. And for Apple (AAPL), as well as other handset manufacturers like Nokia (NOK) and Sony Ericsson (ERIC), redesigning their devices to do so is a costly proposition. So costly, in fact, that they didn’t bother, leaving the country’s handset market to Samsung and LG, which now dominate it.
On April 1, 2009, that will all change. The Korea Communications Commission today agreed to lift the WIPI requirement, opening the South Korean market to the iPhone, BlackBerry and other devices to which it had been effectively closed. “Mobile-phone operators have been required to use the WIPI mobile platform on their handsets, but considering global industry trends toward the use of general-purpose mobile operating systems, we concluded that there was a need to allow carriers the freedom to decide whether to use WIPI or not,” Shin Yong-sub, the director of KCC’s policy bureau, told the Korea Times. “Consumers will also be able to choose from a wider variety of products and benefit from increased price competition from handset makers.”
Top among those products, the iPhone, which carriers K Telecom and KTF are both said to be interested in adding to their lineups.