Sony Ericsson is calling on a superhero to help it enter the tough South Korean market. On Tuesday the company launched its brand with a version of the Xperia X1 cell phone that comes with the full Spiderman 3 movie loaded onto every handset.
South Korea is home territory for two of the world's biggest cell phone makers, Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics, and has long been dominated by local players. Few foreign cell phone makers have had much luck in South Korea although an exception is Motorola, which has a local design unit and customizes many of its handsets for the market.
The Xperia X1 is going on sale through SK Telecom, the leading carrier by subscriptions, and includes support for Korea's home-grown WIPI (wireless Internet platform for interoperability) mobile Internet platform. WIPI has been mandated on all phones sold in the country for several years and been criticized as an entry barrier to foreign phone makers but the government recently said it would lift the restriction from April.
The new Sony Ericsson phone will go on sale this month, shortly before the WIPI rules are removed. From April competition is expected to increase and Apple is anticipated to enter the market with its iPhone, which is currently unavailable in South Korea because of the restrictions.
The phone, which is based on Windows Mobile 6.1, has been localized with several application panels on its home screen for access to local services including the market-leading Daum Internet portal, to SK Telecom's mail and Web services and to content on a personal computer.
Sony Ericsson also plans to offer additional application panels for the phone from a Korean language Web site it will soon launch.