First came the recent announcement that the Blackberry is now available in Korea. Now the HTC Touch. Could the iPhone be next? Most importantly, do these announcements signal the end of the WIPI barrier that stands between foreign manufacturers, to the S. Korean mobile market?
In a country where the use of mobile phones comes as naturally to people as breathing the air, Nokia, iPhone, Blackberry and other iconic phones are conspicuous by their absence.
However, with wireless operators looking for an edge amid the increasing competition for third-generation (3G) customers, and the government hinting on easing the regulatory requirements that have kept foreign handset makers at bay, Korean customers are now poised to entertain other options beyond just the latest offerings from Samsung and LG.
[a key] trade barrier for foreign handset makers is “WIPI,” or “Wireless Internet Platform for Interoperability,” a software standard that the government mandated in 2005 for all mobile-phone makers planning to deliver Internet access on handsets.
HTC is the first foreign handset maker to release its smartphone products in Korea and companies like Nokia, Research In Motion (RIM), the manufacturers of the Blackberry devices, and Apple, the creator of the ubiquitous iPhone, could follow.
SK Telecom is expected to release Blackberry handsets later this year, with RIM granted a license from the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) to sell their products to corporate customers.
With Korea accounting for just 2 percent of the world’s mobile-phone market, it was hard to convince the foreign handset makers to produce WIPI-enabled phones not usable elsewhere.
However, the KCC, the country’s telecommunications regulator, is now considering scrapping the WIPI requirements, amid criticism that maintaining a fixed software standard would mean little when the global industry trend leans toward the adoption of open-source operating systems for wireless platforms.
Link: Korea Times