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Android smartphones top 5 million in Korea

Google-made mobile platform spices up competition against Apple’s iPhone


The number of people who own an Android-powered smartphone has reached 5 million since it was launched in the local market a year ago.

Of the people who own smartphones running on the Android mobile operating system, SK Telecom had the highest number of subscribers ― 3.72 million. It was followed by KT Corp., the exclusive service provider for Apple’s iPhone here with 800,000-900,000 subscribers, and LG Uplus with about 680,000 subscribers.

“More than 20,000 people are purchasing an Android-powered smartphone through SKT on a daily basis,” said an SKT official, adding that Android OS mobiles have a market share of more than 60 percent in the local market.

Although the exact figure was not released, about 2.3 million people are using Apple’s iPhone series running on iOS, which are the Android OS phone’s biggest competition.

Android-powered smartphones ― starting with Motorola’s Motoroi ― were initially introduced in the local market on last Feb. 10 through the country’s top mobile carrier SKT.

The figure, however, escalated after Samsung Electronics launched its flagship smartphone Galaxy S in the second half of last year, garnering up to 2.5 million Galaxy S owners.

The reason Android OS smartphones were able to rapidly expand in the local market was because of the openness of its mobile platform, which was not too selective toward manufacturers or devices, according to industry sources.

The different range of prices, designs and a big line-up of gadgets made by different mobile makers were also among the reasons people selected them.

Immediately after the launch of Apple’s iPhone brought a revolutionary change in the industry in November 2009, local electronics giants like Samsung and LG Electronics moved quickly to catch up in the game of smart devices.

Samsung was lucky enough to release its Galaxy S here about half a year behind Apple, but LG Electronics struggled to make a strong comeback.

Since then, the world’s third-largest handset maker has recently launched its smartphone Optimus MACH and is planning to introduce its new tablet PC “G-Slate” or “Optimus Pad,” running on Android’s Honeycomb OS, which is designed for tablet PCs.

However, there still are downsides when it comes to Android-powered gadgets, such as the lack of application contents that have been noted as its weak point since its introduction in the market.

The number of mobile applications in the Android market totals 144,000, while the applications posted on Apple’s AppStore numbers up to 350,000.

The frequent updates required for the Android mobile OS phones are also rated as one of the obstacles to overcome for those operating on the particular platform.

By Cho Ji-hyun (sharon@heraldcorp.com)
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