iPhone challenges Korean mobile giants on their turf

Apple's iPhone went on sale in South Korea over the weekend, offered by the country's number two mobile carrier KT.

South Korea, a market for 47 million mobile users, is home turf for the world's number two and three mobile phone makers Samsung Electronics  and LG Electronics, which are stepping up efforts to catch up on smartphones.

It is also one of the world's most saturated mobile markets, where telecom carriers and application providers hope the iPhone could boost mobile data usage and help change the business model.

KT said in a statement that it would offer three iPhone models - 16 and 32 gigabyte 3GS and the older 8 gigabyte 3G model - under basic monthly service charges ranging from £23 to £50. Depending on the set charges, the iPhone device could cost from nothing to as much as £200

South Korean telecom regulators issued Apple a licence for location-based services last week, clearing the final hurdle for iPhone's local sales. The country's top mobile no decision has been made yet.

Earlier this year, Korean telecom regulators removed the requirement that all mobile phone manufacturers incorporate a common middleware platform, WIPI (Wireless Internet Platform for Interoperability) which was seen as a barrier for foreign mobile manufacturers to enter the South Korean market.

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