SEOUL, Oct. 30 (Yonhap) -- The number of smartphone subscribers in South Korea surpassed the 20 million mark last week, with nearly 40 percent of South Korean residents carrying such mobile devices, according to data from the country's telecom regulator released Sunday.
South Korean smartphone subscribers numbered slightly more than 20 million as of Friday, including 10 million users with industry leader SK Telecom Co., 6.8 million at KT Corp. and 3.3 million at LG Uplus Corp., the data compiled by the Korea Communications Commission showed.
The country reached the milestone just five months after the number of users passed 15 million in early July, highlighting a recent spike in smartphone adoption.
The iPhone's arrival in the country at the end of 2009 kick-started South Korea's smartphone market. Although introduced slowly, smartphones caught on nationwide at a faster clip than in most other countries.
The regulator said the portion of smartphone users against overall mobile phone users is expected to reach 42 percent by the end of this year, compared with a 1.7 percent at the end of 2009 and a 14.2 percent at the end of 2010.
The data also showed that the market for the feature-packed, handheld computing devices is the fastest growing segment in the country's saturated wireless market, which is estimated at about 52 million users.
Mobile carriers are in a rush to offer faster and larger data streaming services based on so-called long-term evolution (LTE) technology to smartphone users.