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 →
The fate of Blockbuster is now up for auction. On Monday Blockbuster’s next owner, and future, will be decided. According to Reuters, it’s possible that a new owner could close the video rental chain, liquidate it entirely, or continue operations in a bid to compete with the likes of Netflix and the growing number of online media streaming services. Reportedly, Dish Network Corp. and Carl Icahn have already placed bids for the company, and SK Telecom is also interested. Monarch Alternative Capital LP opened the bidding at $290 million in February when Blockbuster put itself up for sale, and bids last week needed to be less than $296 million to qualify. It’s unclear how much Dish or Icahn bid on Blockbuster, but Dish Network reportedly has plans to continue building Blockbuster’s online movie offering should it win the auction. After a new owner is decided on Monday, it will have to be approved by bankruptcy judge on April 7th before the deal can move forward. Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy in September 2010. 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.
Why do we love South Korea? Because it has Seoul, of course. The YONHAP News Agency is reporting that the Samsung Galaxy S has sold over 300,000 units, in just 19 days, on South Korea’s largest wireless carrier; SK Telecom. Samsung declined to comment on the worldwide sales figures of the Galaxy S, which is also out in parts of Europe and Asia. However, last month Samsung President Shin Jong-kyun said his company expected sales of the Gally S to top 10 million units. How many of you are planning on picking up the Galaxy S in one of its many flavors?
On Monday, April 20, Panasonic and NEC are expected to unveil nine devices that run on the Linux-powered LiMo operating system. While not much is known about the soon-to-be-announced devices at this time, proponents of open source operating systems will apparently have plenty of cause for celebration in 2009. Current members of the LiMo Foundation include Motorola, NEC, Panasonic, LG and Samsung, though the latter two have yet to unveil a single LiMo device to date. Still, the foundation does have an all-star line-up of carriers backing it up as NTT DoCoMo, Orange, SK Telecom, Telefonica, Verizon Wireless and Vodafone have all announced they will be carrying LiMo devices at some point this year. While there might not be too much to account for at the moment, the LiMo picture is apparently about to get a whole lot clearer.