Smartphones No Longer Tied to Specific Mobile Operators

      April 29, 2011 10:44

      A major shift is underway in Korea's smartphone market, as smartphones of any make are now available at all three major mobile operators. Until recently, each mobile operator held exclusive rights to sell certain smartphones.

      Apple can be credited with kick-starting the change. Until last year, it supplied iPhones to only one operator per country in major markets. KT was the sole provider in Korea, and AT&T in the U.S.

      These operators boosted their sales by concentrating their marketing on iPhones. This ignited fierce competition with other operators who poured their resources into selling rival smartphones. SK Telecom launched a major marketing campaign for Samsung's Galaxy S, while other manufacturers such as Pantech and LG claimed SK Telecom neglected their models.

      But Apple changed its policy this year to allow other operators to sell the iPhone, including SK Telecom from March. Samsung followed suit on Thursday, launching the Galaxy S2 through all three mobile operators. Apple introduced a white version of the iPhone 4 through SK Telecom and KT on the same day, and its iPad 2 tablet PC goes on sale through the two operators from Friday.

      For manufacturers, this means they can boost their sales by supplying their models to as many operators as possible. Operators can highlight the quality of their content offerings and networks rather than concentrate their marketing resources on one model.

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