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Korea’s Smartphone Market : Late Start, Fast Growth

Posted: April 8th, 2010, by Yunho Chung

Tech savvy customers and pioneering mobile phone makers such as Samsung make Korea an attractive market for advanced handset businesses. However, foreign makers had been uneasy with entering the Korean market due to policies and regulations under the direct and indirect control of the Korean government.

Now, away from protectionist attitudes during the rapid economic development in Korea, the government has been taking measures to remove regulatory hurdles for foreign mobile makers. In 2008 the required usage of WIPI (Wireless Internet Platform for Interoperability) was eliminated, which had allowed the sales of Blackberry phones in Korea. And recently, I have read a new article announcing that on 31st March, 2010 the Korean government removed the obligatory usage of the “online authentication certificate” for online shopping purchases under $300 through ‘smartphones’.

Source: KT Economics and Management research lab 

The authentication certificate has been used in Korea ever since its development in 2001. This certificate is like an online identification certificate for electronic signature verification as security measures for online bankers. You have to apply for this official authentication certificate at your affiliated bank’s online website and download it onto your PC or USB. It was an effective security measure for Korea, but also a technical barrier for foreign mobile makers to enter.

a typical online “official authentication certificate”

By ridding the need for a Korean authentication certificate, this also removes the need for major technical adjustments in the OS for foreign mobile companies entering Korea, like the Apple, RIM, and Nokia etc. This is another evident step towards providing a liberalized and dynamic market for easier access to Korea.

Furthermore online shopping which has been continuously lucrative and widely used amongst Koreans, is likely to spillover to mobile commerce as the online shopping processes become simpler. For smartphone users, once the process is finalized, this will be a medium for a mobile shopping haven, and for handset businesses, this will open windows of opportunities in Korea.

One-stop payments may also be made possible in iPhone’s Gmarket App

Like I mentioned before, there will be an effect of “Dejavu” here as well. For Social Networking Services, it was ‘Cyworld’, for Mobile Payment there was ‘Danal’. Soon, this model of mobile commerce development in Korea will be found as something new in another country at another time.

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