It should be significantly easier for Apple (AAPL) and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIMM) to sell their phones in South Korea soon. Starting next April, phone manufacturers will be able to enter the Korean market without bothering to use a Korean software platform called WIPI.
WSJ: The decision provides a rare, new market opportunity for many players in the mobile phone industry, where the toll from the global economic downturn is so severe that executives and analysts are forecasting the first-ever decline in handset sales next year. South Korea’s market has about 35 million mobile phone users, and 5.5 million units were sold in the third quarter.
Manufacturers will get easier access to South Korea, where 80% of mobile phone sales go to two local companies — Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Co. — and prices are among the world’s highest. The move eliminates a technical requirement that made entering the market too expensive for foreign companies.
This is especially good news for high-end phone makers like Apple, RIM, and Nokia (NOK), though there’s no guarantee that Koreans will gobble up Western gadgets.