Korean Cellphone Market Opens Up to Foreign Handsets
Adopting Wireless Internet Platform for Interoperability, which has prevented many foreign cellphone makers from selling their products in the Korean market, will no longer be mandatory, starting April 2009. As a result, global bestsellers, such as Apple's iPhone of the U.S. and RIM's BlackBerry of Canada, and Nokia's budget phones of Finland, will likely hit the Korean market.
WIPI is a Korean mobile device platform for wireless internet content, including games. To advance into the Korean market, foreign cellphone makers are required to support WIPI, whose standard is different from international platforms, in their handsets. They have criticized the requirement, citing the small size of the Korean market and high development costs.
In a session on Wednesday, the Korea Communications Commission decided to lift the requirement, while saying it will no longer be mandatory for domestic mobile phone service providers to adopt WIPI from April 2009.
Since April 2005, the government has made it mandatory to include WIPI, which was set by the Telecommunications Technology Association. The commission said, "When the WIPI requirement was first set, the government intended to protect and foster the domestic software industry related to wireless internet by using WIPI. But the latest global market trend is a universal mobile operating system, focusing on smartphones."
The mobile industry predicts that foreign products will hit the domestic market, which is led by Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics, in earnest next spring.