New iPad to make local debut Friday
By Cho Mu-hyun
Korea’s two biggest mobile phone companies, SK Telecom and KT, will start selling the new iPad Friday, the latest version of Apple’s immensely popular touch-screen tablet. LG Uplus, the smallest of the three carriers, will not be providing the device, anticipated to be a hot item.
Korea, one of the most wired nations on the planet, is increasingly becoming an important market for Apple, which continues to exploit the boom for mobile Internet devices.
Korea also happens to be home for Apple’s archrival, Samsung Electronics, which is expected to up marketing efforts for its Galaxy series of smartphones and tablets to retain top-dog status on its home turf.
Samsung and Apple are entangled in a complicated web of lawsuits, with the U.S. electronics giant accusing its Korean rival of copying the look and feel of iPhones and iPads in its Galaxy range. Samsung has, in turn, accused Apple of infringing on its patents related to mobile communications technologies.
While both SK Telecom and KT have benefited greatly from the popularity of Apple’s mobile devices here, their expectations for the new iPad seem rather subdued.
In a statement Tuesday KT said it is planning to release both the iPad models that work exclusively on WiFi networks and those that run on mobile networks. SK Telecom plans to release only the model that works on wireless networks.
While the new iPad is capable of supporting fourth-generation (4G) long-term evolution (LTE) technology, it will actually run on KT’s 3G network due to the difference in radio spectrums.
KT will attempt to compensate by providing its own high speed packet access (HSPA) services for quicker Web browsing. Its 190,000 WiFi zones across the country in subway stations, bus lines and expressways are also an advantage for users, said KT spokeswoman Kim Yoon-jeong.
SK Telecom boasts of HSPA services that allow a download speed of 21 megabytes per hour. The Apple device will be available for KT users with three WiFi models available at various prices ― the 16G model is 617,000 won, the 32G tablet, 736,000 won, and the 64G one is 856,000 won.
For 4G LTE models, the prices are slightly higher with the 16G version 670,000 won, the 32G one 790,000, and the 64G iPad 900,000.
SK is offering the LTE models at same price, while offering no cheaper WiFi service, but offers a cheaper two-year contract with discounts in monthly payment plans for those already subscribing to SK.
The release from two Korean carriers is part of Apple’s marketing expansion to distribute the tablet across the globe. The iPad will be available in 50 different countries according to Apple.
Starting Friday, the hot-selling item will also be available in Malaysia, Panama, and Uruguay and continue to spread worldwide.
Apples’ iPad was released in the United States and nine other countries on March 14 and saw total sales of over 3 million in the first weekend.