Korea: ‘iPhone-factor’ ousts SK Telecom CEO

At the end of last month I posted on the impact that the iPhone has made since its launch in South Korea a year ago. There’s been an update to the changes brought on by the device which now includes the removal of Chung Man-won as CEO of SK Telecom, a carrier that did not offer the iPhone.

From Mobile Entertainment:

Korea’s SK Telecom said on Friday it will remove its CEO after losing market share to its rival KT, which won the exclusive for iPhone and has been dominating the smartphone space ever since.

The number of smartphone users has jumped to 6.2 million as of November 2010, up from 806,000 in December 2009. The iPhone is the market leading device.

The iPhone. Pic: AP.

I don’t agree with the final statement that the iPhone is “the marketing leading device” as the Samsung Galaxy’s two million sales in South Korea to date mean it out sold the iPhone by 200,o00 units.

However, for a device limited to one carrier and from a non-Korea manufacturer, there is no doubt that the iPhone’s sales have been impressive and – as per my recent post – the device, its applications and the associated lifestyle have inspired smartphones and smartphones users in the country as the statistics demonstrate. Perhaps the iPhone is better described as “hugely influential” in Korea.

For now, SK is looking at alternative ways of claiming back market share – non-Apple operator KDDI in Japan has teamed up with Skype, for example – which will be a big test for new CEO Ha Sung-min.