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The iPhone is coming to Korea. This isn’t really that big of a news flash, because it was expected to happen. But now it’s pretty much official.

The speculation on that article up there is about how much it will penetrate the market here. I expect it to be pretty much a status symbol. In South Korea, Apple is an image thing. Microsoft is so ubiquitous that people gravitate to Apple things to present status (a very important thing here). It’s big at my workplace. I know one Korean colleague who has a Macintosh in his office, but it just sits there. He doesn’t actually use it; he’s got his Windows machine for actual work. But damn, it looks good. I know another who bought a Mac and only runs Windows through Boot-camp. And I’d say there are about five or six people in my department who have Apple monitors running Windows machines. That nice bold Apple icon oozes coolness.

It will be interesting to see how the iPhone does. It’s not really needed here, because while it might be a big technological breakthrough in the U.S., it’s not that big a deal here. Through Samsung and LG, people already have phones with huge hard drives to store and play all their music and a bunch of quirky apps. And because of DMB broadcasting, people can (and do) watch TV on their phones, something the iPhone doesn’t allow (at least I don’t think). The Samsung phones are pretty sweet, with touch screens and a bunch of cool features.

It will be interesting to watch how app development goes. I’d like to see some Korean-based apps come out. But again, from what I’ve seen, the interest in Apple is in the packaging (the hardware). Few people use Macintosh software, and I would suspect there are only a tiny number of people who could program for it.

If it does well, I suspect it will be because of the Apple brand more than the actual product. I probably won’t get one. I have a new iPod Touch that I’m happy with. Also, the iPhone requires a two-year contract and I don’t know whether I’ll be here that long. I’m not a bleeding edge kinda guy anyway. I’ll wait for the other foreigners (who are ready to make the leap) to test drive the situation before I consider it.

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