Korean regulators on Thursday fined domestic mobile phone manufacturers and carriers 45.3 billion won (roughly $40.2 million) for price-fixing and consumer fraud. According to the Fair Trade Commission, the companies secretly agreed to inflate the prices of cell phones while advertising offers with considerable incentives. The companies’ actions apparently tricked consumers into thinking they were buying a new phone for a bargain. “Companies took advantage of the complicated price setting practice in the mobile telecommunications sector to trick consumers,” an FTC official said. The Korea Times reported that Samsung, LG, Pantech, SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus have all been find for their role in the scheme. In addition to the fine, the companies have been ordered to release information concerning the incentives they offered consumers, and they have been banned from offering such incentives in the future. SK Telecom was given the largest fine of 20.2 billion won, followed by Samsung with 14.2 billion won and KT at 5.1 billion won. More →
It is estimated that Apple has sold more than 1 million iPads in the South Korean market, reports Korea Herald. The Cupertino-based company is outpacing Samsung by a wide margin, cornering 70% to 80% of the tablet market in South Korea according to the paper. The iPad 2 debuted in April 2011 and saw roughly 700,000 units sold by year’s end. Most South Koreans prefer to not be attached to a carrier’s data plan, as two out of three iPads sold are Wi-Fi only models. Many early adopters bought the iPad overseas before the device was formally available on the local market, so Korea Herald notes that the actual number of iPads in use could be far more than 1 million. Apple is expected to launch its next-generation iPad in early March. More →
Sales of Apple’s iPhone 4S have reportedly been surprisingly slow in South Korea, where wireless customers are reportedly disappointed with the phone’s poor performance and lack of features. The Korea Times on Wednesday said that customers are passing on the iPhone due to problems with the phone’s battery life and the lack of support for 4G LTE. The paper reports that pre-sales of the iPhone 4S have totaled between 150,000 and 300,000 units combined at SK Telecom and Korea Telecom, citing unnamed carrier officials in stating that a number of pre-orders have recently been cancelled. Read on for more. More →
LG officially announced the Optimus LTE on Tuesday. The phone will make its debut in South Korea and offers a large 4.5-inch display with a “True HD IPS Display” that has an incredibly sharp 1280 x 720-pixel resolution. It is also loaded with 20GB of storage, a dual-core processor clocked at 1.5GHz, 1GB of RAM, an 8-megapixel camera, a front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera for video chat and a 1,830 mAh battery. The Optimus LTE runs Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) and is available in black. “Our goal is to be a leading player in LTE devices by continuously offering best-in-class products based on our LTE patents and knowhow,” LG CEO and President Dr. Jong-seok Park said. Read on for the full press release. More →
27,000 people have filed a class-action lawsuit against Apple in South Korea over concerns Apple collected private location data, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday. The group is seeking 1 million won per person in damages, or about $930 each and just over $25 million total. In early August, the Korean Communications Commission fined Apple 3 million won ($2,829) following the “Locationgate” scandal that occurred earlier this year. Apple has stood by its claims that the location-tracking was the result of a bug that was fixed in a software update. The iPhone maker was also sued in the United States by two consumers in Florida and by one man in Puerto Rico. Apple paid South Korean lawyer Kim Hyung-suk $945 this past May after he filed a lawsuit against the company, and that is the only other recorded pay-out at this point regarding the iOS location tracking bug. More →
Samsung will combine both its flat-panel display and semiconductor businesses into one unit, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday. Samsung’s display business wasn’t profitable during the first quarter and it’s on track for the same lackluster performance during the second quarter. Combined, however, the display and semiconductor businesses made up 70% of Samsung’s operating profits and 44% of the South Korean company’s revenue, The Wall Street Journal said. In other words, the move looks like an attempt to shroud the poor display performance inside the company’s more successful semiconductor unit. The display unit could see more trouble ahead as well, since Samsung is currently locked in a number of legal battles with Apple, the largest buyer of Samsung’s LCD products. Kwon Oh-hyun, Samsung’s semiconductor president, will oversee the new joint businesses.
Apple on Friday filed a new patent infringement lawsuit in South Korea alleging that multiple Samsung products are infringing its patents. “It is no coincidence that Samsung’s latest products look a lot like the iPhone and iPad from the shape of the hardware to the user interface and even the packaging,” an Apple spokesperson said regarding case. The move is the latest in an ongoing legal battle in which each company claims the other is making unlawful use of protected IP. Apple struck first back in April when the Cupertino-based technology giant sued Samsung, claim it copied “Apple’s technology, user interface and innovative style in these infringing products.” Samsung responded just one week later by filing countersuits in South Korea, Japan and Germany, and then in the U.S. as well. Both companies are thought to have grounds for legal action, but their close relationship stands to take a hit as a result of the feud; Apple is currently Samsung’s largest buyer of LCD components. More →
Sprint’s flagship EVO 3D hasn’t even made its way out of the womb yet and its successor is already official. HTC on Thursday unveiled the EVO 4G + in South Korea — odd, since “EVO” is a Sprint brand. The new superphone is essentially a Sensation in EVO’s clothing, and it features a 4.3-inch display, an 8-megapixel camera, HTC’s latest Sense UI and, of course, 4G WiBRO connectivity for the South Korean market. Expect that BRO to be MAX’d when the 4G + makes its way to U.S. shores, which might not be for a while unless Sprint doesn’t mind the EVO 3D sharing the spotlight with a 3D-less device. Of course the massively popular EVO 4G is getting a little gray up top these day, so a next-generation 4G + model would be more than welcome for those not interested in a third dimension on their smartphones. Hit the break for a third-party video of the EVO 4G + in action. More →
Samsung announced on Monday that it has sold more than 1 million of its new Galaxy S II handsets, and that the phone has been “selling like [hotcakes].” The Korean company said the time it took for sales to pass the 1 million milestone was the fastest of any device it has sold, and that the Galaxy S II beat the Galaxy S to that sales figure by 40 days. The Galaxy S II made its debut on April 29th, and we’re not surprised that Samsung has managed to sell one every three seconds — when we reviewed the Galaxy S II earlier this month we called it the “greatest Android smartphone available on the planet.” More →
It didn’t take a crystal ball to see this move coming — Samsung on Friday filed multiple patent infringement suits against Apple. Just four days following Apple’s filing of a lawsuit alleging Samsung smartphones like the Galaxy S “copy Apple’s technology, user interface and innovative style,” Samsung has filed three separate suits alleging infringement of a total of ten patents. The suits were filed in Seoul Central District Court, Korea; Tokyo, Japan; and in Manheim, Germany. In a statement, Samsung said it is “responding actively to the legal action taken against us in order to protect our intellectual property and to ensure our continued innovation and growth in the mobile communications business.” Ebb and flow… yin and yang… suits and countersuits. More →
LG may soon be chasing HTC in the phones-with-massive-displays market. According to some leaked images and specs, LG has a new phone codenamed “Optimus Big” up its sleeve. The Optimus Big — as its name implies — sports a large 4.3-inch screen, a single-core 1GHz processor, a T-DMB TV tuner, and LG’s super bright and sharp NOVA display. Little else is currently known about the phone, although we can tell from the images that it at least sports a forward-facing camera for video chats. It also very likely runs some flavor of Android and appears that it could swallow the iPhone in one bite. If this thing ever makes it to the United States, and we doubt it will, we hope it comes amped up with some 4G and dual-core goodness. More →
Earlier today, Korea’s largest mobile operator, SK Telecom, announced the availability of Apple’s iPhone. Pre-registration for the smartphone begins on March 9th at 7:00AM via online and retail sales channels — the device will go on sale March 16th. “SK Telecom is proud to offer iPhone 4 on the nation’s top network,” said the company’s co-CEO, So Jin-Woo. “Our customers will benefit from flexible tariff plans tailored to their unique usage needs along with a high level of customer care.” The company plans to announce full pricing details “soon.” Hit the jump for the full press release.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Samsung Mobile Display will use Samsung’s new, $2.1 billion factory being constructed in Korea to increase display production. The new factory, located in the southern section of Seoul, will up Samsung’s display making capacity from 3 million units to 30 million units per month. Martin Fichter, HTC’s vice president of product management and planning, said “the display was definitely one of the bigger issues that we needed to solve.” Samsung expects demand for its AMOLED displays to drastically increase in the coming years, estimating that 700 million AMOLED devices will be in the market by 2015. The report cited HTC — specifically the DROID Incredible and EVO 4G models — as being the company most affected by the current AMOLED shortage.