As promised, Apple on Friday rolled the iPhone 5 out in Samsung’s home turf of South Korea, home to population of 50 million people. Today’s launch will be augmented by the global roll-out to an additional 50 countries later in the month as Apple works on fulfilling its self-imposed schedule of having the device available in a hundred countries and across 240 carriers by year’s end.

The Cupertino firm appears to have caught up with demand as the online Apple Store now quotes 2-4 business days for online deliveries. The previous two-per-customer limitation has also been lifted so people can now order as much iPhones as they wish…

SK Telecom and KT, the country’s biggest carriers, kicked off the release of the LTE-enabled handset after beginning pre-orders a week earlier. It’s been estimated that iPhone pre-orders topped 400,000 units versus the 200,000 iPhone 4S pre-orders last November.

Interestingly, The Korea Communications Commission (KCC), the country’s telecom regulator, last week warned SK Telecom and KT not to offer “illegal subsidies to attract more iPhone 5 customers”.

For those not in the know, offering device subsidies which entail changing carrier is against the country’s law. The iPhone commands the highest subsidy in the industry, an estimated $200 more than other high-end smartphones but also competes with Apple in mobile products.

Still, both carriers sell a 16GB iPhone 5 for KRW 261,600 (about $242) with a mandatory KRW 62,000 a month contract, amounting to about $57. The phone is also sold unlocked for KRW 814,000 for the 16 gig version, approximately $753. The unlocked 32GB/64GB model retails for KRW 946,000/KRW 1,070,000, or about $875 and $989, respectively.

It’s interesting that, per Korea IT News, Apple allowed SK Telecom to install multi-carrier software on the units to allow for the automatic selection of either the 800MHz or 1.8GHz LTE frequency bands.

According to Moody’s Investors Service, Apple’s phone as of October claimed about eleven percent of South Korea’s 31.4 million smartphone population.

This iPhone 5 launch comes at a time of another major U.S. litigation between Apple, based out in Cupertino, California, and Samsung Group, which has its global headquarters in Samsung Town, Seoul, South Korea.


The iPhone 5 launch at KT’s flagship store in central Seoul.

For instance, we learned today that Judge Lucy Koh asked Apple and Samsung to consider a “global peace”, as she put it. Just yesterday, Apple’s boss Tim Cook told Bloomberg Businessweek that he loathes litigation with Samsung, which supplies the iPhone maker with components such as chips and displays.

“It is awkward”, Cook told the publication in response to the topic of the rocky Apple-Samsung relationship. “I hate litigation. I absolutely hate it”.

The iPhone 5 is scheduled to land next Friday on store shelves in Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Ecuador, Grenada, Indonesia, Israel, Jamaica, Jordan, Kuwait, Macedonia, Malaysia, Moldova, Montenegro, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Taiwan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

 

Ahead of the incoming iPhone 5 launches, Apple rolled out iTunes to a number of new markets, including Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon. The company currently sells the device in 48 countries around the world, including the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong and Japan.

A week later, December 21, the iPhone 5 is due in Barbados, Botswana, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Egypt, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St.Vincent & the Grenadines, Tunisia, Uganda and Vietnam.