Korea Becomes Battlefield for Mobile Phone Makers

An English article in The Korea Times discusses how mobile phone makers will offer their latest and greatest models in the Korean market, and those that succeed in this advanced market will make the cut to be exported to the rest of the world. The article gives some interesting stats about terminals in Korea, such as the fact that color screens will be standard in all new phones this year. No disagreement from me on the importance of Korea (and Japan) as proving grounds for new mobile technology, but the article makes it sound like it’s easy to export phone models that have been successful in S. Korea. It’s not so. The Korean phones need to be re-worked for radio frequencies (800MHz is often used in Korea), for language, for data platforms, and for carrier customizations before they can be shipped. Even the plastics need to be re-worked, as drop survival tests (for example) are more stringent in the USA. Furthermore, all the Korean models are CDMA phones, so the radio guts of the phone also need to be swapped out before the phones can sell to Europe or GSM carriers. So where were we?… oh yeah, it’s easy to export the phones so long as you change: the antenna, the radio, the processor, the software, and the plastics.

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