Apple's newest smartphone, the iPhone 5, became available in Korea as of midnight on Thursday, almost three months after it was first released overseas. Mobile providers such as SK Telecom and KT, which had been taking pre-orders online for the past week, held massive launch events to attract subscribers.
"Online pre-orders ended just two hours after we received reservations on Dec. 1, as we immediately racked up 50,000 requests," an SK executive staffer said. KT has attracted more subscribers, with a whopping 250,000 pre-orders.
The number of iPhone 5 subscribers will reach up to 2 million by the end of this month, industry sources speculate. However, others question whether the sales of the iPhone 5 will meet expectations.
"Sales could be lower than expected, considering that it's been nearly three months since it was rolled out overseas, and that it faces a stiff challenge from strong rivals like Samsung Electronics' Galaxy 3 and Galaxy Note 2, LG Electronics' Optimus G, and Pantech's Vega R3," a mobile industry insider said.
KT has decided not to charge any additional fees if subscribers terminate their current contracts early in order to switch over to the iPhone 5 this month. For its part, SK Telecom claims it can offer subscribers a better wireless connection speed.
The two providers are offering subscribers similar prices: Those who opt for monthly payments of W62,000 for a two-year contract will have to pay W261,600 for the 16 GB model or W393,600 for the 32 GB version (US$1=W1,083).