South Korea is on board. As of today, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) can resell the iPhone within its borders.
There's coverage aplenty of the news, including a feature story in this morning's edition of The Wall Street Journal. Reading it, I feel as if I've heard a collective head-slap -- as if this was some sort of global "well, duh!" moment because we all agree that South Korea just had to -- HAD TO -- do business with the iEmpire.
But did it really? Motley Fool Global Gains co-advisor Tim Hanson isn't so sure. "Generally speaking, investor excitement about the iPhone in Asia is overrated because mobile phone technology in those countries moves so much faster than here," Tim said when I asked him about this earlier.
"Companies like SK Telecom (NYSE:SKM) or China Mobile (NYSE:CHL) that already have significant market share probably don't need to worry about losing big chunks of it just because the competitor got the iPhone."
He's referring to KT Corp. (NYSE:KTC), SK Telecom's chief rival on the Korean peninsula. The company has already said that it is in talks to distribute the iPhone and could strike a deal reminiscent of Apple's agreement with China Unicom (NYSE:CHU). SK Telekom told the Journal it's willing to watch and wait to see how the iPhone catches on.
Tim's right that SK Telecom doesn't need to rush here. Asia's mobile networks are more advanced than our own. They're also more battle-tested when it comes to delivering data to smartphones already operating on the peninsula.
Even so, I find it curious that SK Telecom is taking a wait-and-see approach when it comes to the iPhone. Certainly there's no reason for the carrier to act rashly, but its customers are also well-known data consumers. Samsung phones rang up the third-most data requests worldwide in June, according to AdMob. SK opened its own applications store earlier this month, the Journal reports.
Samsung makes great phones. So does Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM), whose BlackBerry is offered by SK Telecom to its business customers. But there's never been a mobile data delivery mechanism like the iPhone. South Korea is ready for it, even if SK Telecom isn't.
Fool contributor Tim Beyers had stock and options positions in Apple at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. The Motley Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. The Fool's disclosure policy is boycotting number 2 pencils today. Soft lead is for wimps.