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(LEAD) iPhone sales break 500,000 mark in S. Korea in 4 months

By Lee Youkyung
SEOUL, April 1 (Yonhap) -- Sales of the iPhone, the iconic mobile device made by Apple Inc., broke the half-million mark in the four months since its South Korean market debut, KT Corp. said Thursday.

   KT, which sells the iPhone here, said South Korea was one of the seven countries in the world where sales of the smartphone topped 500,000 units in less than a year.

   The telecom operator, also the nation's second-largest mobile carrier, said it activates 4,000 new iPhones every day.

   The iPhone went on sale in South Korea on Nov. 28, 2009, after the South Korean government, following months of reviewing, granted the Cupertino, California-based Apple final approval to use so-called location-based services, such as maps, in the smartphone.

   South Korea became one of the last major Asian countries to get Apple's flagship product, following releases in Japan, India, Australia and China.

   Four months after entering the domestic market, which is dominated by South Korean handset giants Samsung and LG, Apple became the first foreign handset maker with a top-selling smartphone. The Omnia2, a smartphone model by Samsung Electronics Co., surpassed the 600,000 sales mark on March 30.

   A KT official said the iPhone's introduction helped spur the use of wireless data, giving the wireless services industry a boost and bringing down prices of using wireless data.

   The average monthly amount of wireless data used by iPhone subscribers is 44 times more than subscribers of other mobile phones, KT said.

   The country's information and technology industry is set to expand by 2.6 trillion won (US$2.31 billion) in the next three years, thanks to the release of the iPhone, according to a report from KT's research center.

   The iPhone has also created new mobile software and content markets in South Korea, estimated at 470 billion won, as well as a market worth some 230 billion won for iPhone-related devices and accessories.