South Korean regulations requiring handset applications to be based on a homegrown technology are largely why the country’s mobile phone market is dominated by Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics.
As a result of the WIPI ruling – the acronym stands for wireless internet platform for interoperability – foreign companies have found it too expensive to produce handsets tailored for South Korean consumers.
Nokia is virtually absent in the country and Motorola is a minor competitor with less than 5 per cent of the market. Apple has kept its iPhone out of the market because of the WIPI rule.
Yet international handset makers are keen to enter South Korea, one of the world’s most technologically advanced and expensive telecoms markets.
Now President Lee Myung-bak’s newly elected government has expressed a willingness to soften the WIPI rule, potentially opening the door to foreign handset makers.
The move comes as criticism of the WIPI regulations grows, based on the argument that it restricts Korean consumers’ choices,
Some analysts believe that, even if Korea does soften its rules, foreign companies could still find it tough to break the into the Samsung and LG-dominated market.
But there is no doubt that if the protection barrier is removed there will be no shortage of foreign handset seeking to end their dominance.

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