The Apple iPhone, the Jesus Phone, the phone that changed everything, the phone that enslaves young children in a prison built by the tyrannical Steve Jobs, or whatever you want to call the damn thing, has broken the 1 million units sold barrier in South Korea. Available exclusively on SK Telecom, who once had a stake in the U.S. market with the Helio MVNO before selling it to Virgin, but are now thinking about coming back by investing in the yet to be built LightSquared LTE network, the iPhone has been selling since the end of June of this year and is expected to break the 1.2 million units sold barrier early next month. Those extra 200,000 sales are from customers who pre-ordered the iPhone 4. SK Telecom’s biggest competitor, the 2nd largest operator in town called KT, says that they’ll have sold up to 2.5 million Samsung Galaxy S units by the end of the year.
Why the cock fight? Smartphone penetration in South Korea is still surprisingly less than 10% with only 7 out of every 100 people owning a device with an operating system that supports native applications. That’s a bit of a shock considering how that country is leading the world in both broadband adoption and new cases of internet addiction. You’d think these guys would want to maintain their plugged in state of mind while they go and shop for groceries. Total mobile phone penetration in South Korea stands at 50 million subscribers for 48 million people, which means that every man, woman, and child has a mobile phone and a few lucky people have two.
With Apple invading South Korea, imagine how Samsung and LG feel? While I wouldn’t go so far as to say they single handedly transformed their country from one who exports vegetables and grains into a nation of people addicted to Star Craft, they did contribute a significant part of the dramatic rise of standard of living that took place over the past 50 years.