It is no secret of the dominance of Apple as the global driving engine of the emergent technologies market, particularly in regards to mobile devices. With quarterly numbers of USD 46.33 billion US in revenue in the first quarter alone, Apple is emerging into areas where no tech companies have gone before. One needs to look no further than the abundance of Frisbee retailers selling Apple products in Seoul, as well as the multitude of iPhones advertised in the windows of cellular device retailers to understand the strong influence Apple is placing upon consumers within Korea. Much to the chagrin of traditional Korean-based technology giants LG and Samsung, Apple is opening up a world of technology to a market which is always striving to stay one step ahead of the curve.
The recent transition of consumers from utilizing conventional Korean based electronics towards Apple products has not been without issues, however. Last year a group of 27,612 iPhone users in South Korea took the company to court with claims of violations of privacy. Each claimant was demanding KRW 1 million in the lawsuit, equating to a total sum of roughly USD 26 million US. Although this amount may seem nominal to a company reportedly worth over USD 600 billion US, the foundation of Apple is based upon clean, aesthetically pleasing devices and second-to none customer services. It only takes a small number of complaints regarding services, especially related to privacy invasion, to deter potential clients and have a detrimental effect on a growing consumer base. Of note, the first individual payment was settled in July last year, although at that time the representative lawyers were threatening a class-action lawsuit, something Apple would much sooner avoid.
This instance was not the only issue Apple has faced in Korea. In April of 2011 Apple took Samsung to court citing allegations that Samsung was in violation of Apple owned patents related to the iPhone and iPad, two products with enormous consumer bases within Korea. It is widely known that Google’s free Android operating system is the primary rival to Apple’s iOS system, and subsequently owners of specific patents are important factors for each company. This issue was of particular importance because Apple commonly receives component parts such as chips from Samsung electronics. Rather than settling the issue, Samsung responded by subsequently suing Apple over claims of patent violations, demanding compensation. Instead of being resolved, this issue has come to a further head as Samsung Electronics have filed a new lawsuit against Apple in March of this year relating to the popular iPad 2 and iPhone 4S. It is obvious that as these two titans continue to battle for dominance in the mobile technology market, particularly in Asia, that we have not heard the last of these battles.
Despite the obvious setbacks Apple has faced emerging into something of a uniform market from an electronics perspective, their continual persistence is paying dividends as the number of Apple devices utilized on a regular basis is escalating on a day by day basis (citation required for exact number). In February of this year Apple reportedly exceeded sales of 1 billion iPad devices in Korea, accounting for roughly 70-80% of the market share in the tablet industry within Korea. Can the technology superpower become the number one provider of mobile devices within Korea Only time will tell in this regard, but the answer may arrive far sooner than people had initially predicted.