(2nd LD) KT to release Google's Nexus One in S. Korea next month
By Lee Youkyung
SEOUL, May 31 (Yonhap) -- KT Corp., South Korea's No. 2 mobile carrier, said Monday that it will widen its smartphone line-up with the release of Nexus One, the first mobile phone by Google Inc., in the local market by late June.
The dominant fixed-line operator and exclusive provider of Apple Inc.'s iPhone in South Korea will offer the Nexus One first via on-line stores and then expand sales through retailers the following month, the company's executives said.
KT's iPhone sales are expected to reach 732,000 as of Monday, according to the company. It seeks to continue building on its nationwide wireless fidelity (WiFi) networks and its smartphone line-up to lure consumers with an appetite for high wireless data usage.
The introduction of the iPhone at the end of November in South Korea triggered a smartphone boom in the country. Domestic smartphone subscribers surged to 2 million as of the end of May, compared with 200,000 in June last year, according to KT.
Local mobile-phone operators, including KT and No. 1 mobile carrier SK Telecom Co., are counting on profitable smartphones to offset generally sluggish revenue growth and a steady drop in fixed-line phone revenues with increases in wireless services and data sales.
KT also said that it will set up a WiMAX company with Intel Corp., Samsung Electronics Co. and other financial firms to sell and rent equipment for a high-speed wireless broadband service called WiBro that KT is also pinning high hopes on.
The South Korean carrier will hold a majority stake, spending "slightly more" than 65 billion won (US$54.6 million) in the forthcoming company that will help ramp up its wireless networks countrywide. The WiMAX company is expected to launch in June with initial capital of 320 billion won, KT said.
In a move to ease doubts about the business outlook of its WiBro division, KT's chief executive officer Lee Suk-chae said that several business deals are underway in South America and Africa to export its WiBro technology.
"Ghana's telecom minister told me he wants to get the same technology Rwanda has," Lee told a press conference, speaking of WiBro, adding that it has a demand in laptop computer markets rather than mobile phones.
Pyo Hyun-myung, the company's president of mobile business, said nothing has been decided as to the release of the next version of iPhone or the iPad, Apple's latest tablet PC that went on global sales last week.