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 →
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 →
Today’s one of those days when we wish we lived in South Korea. Samsung’s hot new Galaxy S II — which packs a dual-core Orion CPU, an 8 megapixel camera, a 4.27-inch Super AMOLED Plus touchscreen, and more — hits the South Korean market on all three of the country’s wireless carriers. Samsung shipped more than 14 million of the first generation Galaxy S devices, and it hopes to sell at least 10 million Galaxy S II handsets as the device makes its debut in 120 countries and on 140 different carriers in the coming months. “We expect sales to be as good as the Galaxy S,” Shin Jong-Kyun, president of Samsung Mobile, told AFP. Unfortunately there’s no word if or when the Galaxy S II will hit the United States, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see it pop up given that the first generation was offered by each of the big-four carriers. More →
The recent resurrection of rumors that Sprint is working with Samsung on a WiMAX-enabled phone may have just been trumped by news from Korea earlier today. According to a report from The Korea Herald, KT is planning to offer a tri-mode Windows Phone built by Samsung that will operate on the KT’s WiMAX network. The most interesting part — KT supposedly claims it will be releasing this handset before 2009 is through. Dubbed the Samsung Prism, the phone will be a triple threat, operating on WCDMA, Wi-Fi and WiMAX networks. On the far less interest-piquing side of things, KT is reportedly also prepping the 3G-ready LG Lilac. Super. So what does all this mean for us here in the US? News that Samsung is partnering with a carrier to develop a WiMAX-enabled phone that comes straight from a carrier is far more interesting than previous guesses from analysts. Of course logic suggests dictates that Samsung will be among the first manufacturers to build handsets for KT’s WiMAX network, but the time frame is what interests us. A Korean release in 2009 could mean comparable handsets might reach our shores as early as 1H 2010.