Korean mobile users finally have the chance to buy the iPhone, after the Korean Communication Commission (KCC) gave approval Wednesday for the device to be sold.
The decision followed a campaign by consumer groups to allow the wildly popular smartphone into the tightly-controlled market.
Critics complained that while Korea prided itself on being one of the most wired countries in the world, it was behind places such as Guinea-Bissau and Equatorial Guinea, where the iPhone was already on sale.
The official reason for excluding the device was because Apple did not have a license for its location service, as required under Korean law. The KCC yesterday decided to waive that rule.
But the country has commonly used technical standards to protect its telecom industry, and in particular the handset sector. Nokia the world’s largest manufacturer, only returned to the market this year after a six-year absence.
Samsung and LG, the world’s second and third biggest phone-makers, between them have more than 70% of the market.
It is not clear when the iPhone would go on sale in Korea. KT, the number two mobile operator, told the Wall Street Journal it had held talks with Apple and that these would continue.
The iPhone has been on sale in Japan since last year, where the 3GS is reportedly the country’s best-selling handset. China Unicom is expected to start selling the device in China next month.
The biggest mobile operator, SK Telecom, is selling RIM’s Blackberry with a localized keyboard. It launched the enterprise service at the end of last year and the retail service in June.