South Korean authorities have allegedly conducted a raid of Apple’s offices in Seoul earlier this week ahead of the scheduled iPhone X launch on Samsung’s home turf tomorrow.
London’s Metro says investigators asked questions about Apple’s business practices. The company’s products are wildly popular in South Korea, which is home to its rival Samsung.
Erik Telford, president of the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity, wrote in an article for The Hill that the country’s antitrust agency has exhibited “alarming behaviour that threatens the viability of companies doing business in South Korea, including such major American corporations as Apple, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle and Qualcomm.”
Should this raid be interpreted as a sign that the country’s officials are attempting to hamper the success of iPhone X? It’s hard to tell for sure.
That said, it’s no coincidence that a pair of recent reports revealed that Korea’s FTC was investigating carrier complaints about Apple’s alleged unfair advertising policies, including obligating carriers to order a certain amount of products to sell in the country.
An official from a local mobile carrier stated two weeks ago:
Whenever there’s a new product, mobile carriers air the same advertisements decided by Apple. As no action has been taken by the FTC, mobile carriers have no choice but to follow Apple’s guidelines to grab consumers’ attention for a few seconds.
One of the reports even alleged that officials were close to forcing a recall of iPhone 8 if another problem arises similar to the three reported cases of swollen batteries.
A representative for the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards said a month ago:
We are carefully observing swelling phenomenon of iPhone 8 Plus as there was the battery incidence of Galaxy Note 7 last year. Because we cannot do anything with products that are not currently distributed in markets according to Basic Laws on Safety of Products, we can only examine iPhone 8 series after they are released.
Apple said at the time that it was looking into this although sporadic battery failures are not uncommon when you have millions of phones coming off of production lines every month.
Back in 2015, Korean authorities moved to protect Samsung from competition from Apple after iPhone 6 helped the Cupertino firm grab a historic 33% share of the local smartphone market. It was this achievement that provoked the Korea Fair Trade Commission to investigate whether foreign firms were hurting the domestic smartphone market.
Roger Kay, president of the tech analysis firm Endpoint Technologies Associates, previously accused South Korea of having a “protectionist agenda,” writing in an article for Forbes that the Korea Fair Trade Commission has “pretty much run amok in recent years, slapping spurious charges on foreign companies.”
Samsung itself has been going through quite a turmoil following the imprisonment of its head Lee Jae-yong who was accused of making payments in exchange for political favors and found guilty of bribery, embezzlement and perjury.
He was sentenced to five years in prison.
Samsung recently launched an “Upgrade To Galaxy” program in South Korea, offering up to 10,000 iPhone users a one-month trial of Galaxy Note 8 or Galaxy S8.
Are the Korean press and the local government trying to spoil the upcoming iPhone X launch?
Tell us what you think down below in the comments!