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South Korea: (iPhone 1) Patriotism and Media Manipulation Backfire

The smart phone battle is getting brutal in Seoul. Young, tech-savvy bloggers are pouring over professional reviews of the invincible Apple iPhone and Galaxy S of Samsung that came out last week. While older Koreans feel weirdly obligated to side with Samsung in local VS global brand competitions, young iPhone users do not try to muffle their ‘iPhone pride’. Korean bloggers, even though they nod along with positive feedback on Samsung Galaxy S, condemn local media for indiscriminately praising Samsung while bad-mouthing the iPhone.

The iPhone, like anywhere else in the world has a rock star status here in South Korea. Two major Korean phone makers, Samsung and LG, came up with the “iPhone killer”,Samsung with its Galaxy S and LG with Omnia phone, both decent smart phones. But it is always the iPhone users who show off its phone in the public, praising it nonstop with their faces glowing with pride.

In a LG’s Omnia user internet café, complaints on the iPhone user’s arrogance are heaping up. A netizen ID Itbestar shared an unpleasant experience involving his iPhone user friend. He added that he does not understand his friend’s irrational pride of unreasonably expensive iPhone and even though iPhone has tons of functions, what consumers are actually using on daily basis is limited to few.

전역하고 어제 오랜만에 친구를 만났는데요. 마침 어제 오즈 옴니아가 제 품에 온날이기도 했는데. 절 딱 보자마자 제 손에 든 옴니아를 보며 자기는 아이폰이라고 놀리더라구요. 그래요. 오즈옴니아. 저 돈 아낄라고 싸게 샀어요. 그런데 확실히 해 둬야 되요. 아이폰 살 돈이 없어서 못 산게 아니라 한달 6만원어치의 값어치라는 게 전혀 없어서 합리적인 소비로서 오즈옴니아를 샀다는 것…정말 제 주위 전역한 사람들이나 친구들 보면 아이폰 사용자가 꽤 있는 편인데, 제가 물어보면 하나같이 하는 말이 막상 처음엔 신나서 이리저리 만져보며 어플깔아도 쓰는 어플은 정해져 있다고. 서울버스, 맛집, 날씨, 트위터 이런 정도. 그런데 이런 건 다른 폰에도 다 되죠… (그리고 저는 정말 아이폰과 옴니아 터치감 차이 못 느끼겠어요, 제가 좀 둔한가요?) (이 아이폰 쓰는 친구) 아이폰 자부심이 발동했던지 인터넷 속도 시합하자고 하더라고요…이건 뭐 누가 이겼느니 라는 유치한 싸움이기보다는 그냥 정말 아이폰 사용자들의 무한한 자부심이라는 게 하나의 사회 현상 같기도 하다는.

After I got off from my military duty, I met an old friend of mine. That was the day, I bought my OZ Omnia phone. The moment he saw me, he laughed at my Omnia phone which I was holding, and bragged that his is the iPhone. Yes. OZ Omnia. I bought this to save money. But one thing I want to make clear – I did not buy iPhone not because I couldn't afford it, but because it was not worth paying 60 thousand won(USD 51) per month. (for next two years) I choose Omnia phone as a rational consumer. There are quite a few iPhone users around me, saying that when they first bought iPhones they got so excited and downloaded this and that applications. But it turns out to be there are just few applications they use regularly, for example the Seoul Bus, Restaurant Search, Weather, Twitter and etc,.which you can do as well from other phones. (and I cannot really feel the difference of the touch screen’s quality between iPhone and Omnia phone. Am I too thick-handed?)…(My iPhone user friend) even challenged me to compete our phones’ internet speed, out of his ‘iPhone pride’. This is more than a patty competition that winning slightly matters, but a social trend of iPhone user’s infinite pride of their phone.

A netizen ID :OZ Omnia commented on Itbestar’s post that he also have witnessed iPhone user’s smugness.

얼마 전 편의점 근무중에 노래켜놓고 있는거 보더니 옴니아 2인가요? 옴니아2 아직 문제가 많아요, 라더군요. 그래서 아이폰 쓰시나 봐요, 했더니, 예. 아이폰 사용자는 우월의식에 젖어 사나봅니다.ㅎ

Few days earlier, I played music from my phone while working in a convenience store. One stranger approached me and asked ‘is this Omnia 2? Omnia 2 still has many problems to fix.’ I asked him again ‘so you must be the iPhone user’ and he answered ‘Yes’. These iPhone users think they are superior to others. hh

What angered these proud iPhone users are the media’s hostile attitude toward iPhone. Local media has been eulogizing Samsung’s Galaxy as the ultimate iPhone killers while upbraiding iPhone 4 and 3.

Another blogger comments points out that the iPhone’s tough screen is far smooth compare with Galaxy S which makes him feel ‘chocked’, Galaxy S came out with additional functions like DMB and support Flash format, but that he doubt that the journalist who wrote the article has actually tried both phones. Few local reports discovered major media’s news articles have misquote foreign press, making it sounds like the Financial Times confirmed Galaxy S as the iPhone killer by omitting a part “However, they(referring experts) doubt the Galaxy S can become the iPhone killer, despite its strong hardware”. Some other articles are under suspicions that they have intentionally misinterpreted the English article.

Let along misquotations, bloggers whom half professional and half amateur in technology are doubting the journalists’ judgments on the smart phones. A blogger Stworld pointed out a conflicting view on the phone’s touch screen. While he felt that the iPhone’s touch screen is far smooth compare to that of Galaxy S which makes him feel ‘chocked’, the local reports evaluated those two as similar. Stworld later added Galaxy S’s additional functions like the DMB and the Flash format support are praisable.

저는 아이폰을 쓰고는 있지만, 아이폰에 불만도 많은 사용자입니다. 그런데, 오늘 갤럭시S를 써볼 기회가 있었습니다. 갤럭시S의 터치 스크롤이 아이폰과 거의 비슷해졌다는 신문기사를 본적이 있었는데, 그 기자는 정말 써보고 기사를 썼을까 하는 생각이 들더군요. 사실 아이폰을 쓴 초기에는 옴니아2도 어느 정도 만족스럽다는 생각을 했었는데, 이제 아이폰의 부드러운 스크롤에 완전히 적응이 되었는지..갤럭시S의 터치 및 스크롤의 느낌이 옴니아2보다는 훨씬 좋은 듯 한데도…너무너무 어색하다는 생각이 들더군요. 뭔가 답답함으로 인해, 가슴이 꽉 막히는 것이…그래도 화면의 깔끔함이나, 여러 기능들이 꽤 좋아졌다고는 생각합니다. DMB가 필요하고 플래시가 지원되는 것이 좋은 사람이라면 충분히 아이폰이 아니라 갤럭시S를 살만하다고는 생각합니다.

I am an iPhone user but I have a lot to complain about iPhone. Today, I had a chance to play with Galaxy S. I once read from a news article that Galaxy S’s touch scroll has become very similar to that of the iPhone. I doubt that journalist ever touched the phones before writing that article. Before I got used to my iPhone touch screen, I found Omnia 2’s touch scroll is not that disappointing. Now, after I adapted to the iPhone’s smooth scroll, I find the Galaxy S’s touch screen and the scroll very stiff, even though this is way better than Omnia 2. It is too stiff, that even makes me choke… I do admit that the Galaxy’s screen is really neat and there so many improved functions. Anyone who needs DMB and the flash format, it totally makes sense to buy Galaxy instead of the iPhone.

As more bloggers post quality reviews on smart phones than the local media report view, the journalist’s credibility are often compromised. A blogger Thexenon criticized a local journalist’s ignorance to the subject, talking rather bombastically that he would have written a better article on the cell phones. That article is claimed to be written after six hours of iPhone with Galaxy S comparison.

6시간 사용했다면서요?! 6시간 동안 구글어스 돌리고, 음성검색하고, 사진 찍은 게 다 인건가요?! 6시간동안 비교를 한다면..1. 부팅속도 2. 배터리 소모량 3. 동일 어플 실행 속도 비교 (구글 서비스라던가)4. 킬러컨텐츠 소개 5. 기기만의 특장점 비교 6. UI비교 및 UX 비교. 7. 실제 사용 소감 등. 이 정도는 뽑아낼 수 있지 않을까요?

What? You said you have compared these two for six hours! In six hours, you only played Google Earth, did the voice search and took photos from both phones? If I spent six hours, I would have check two phones’ 1. Booting speed, 2. Battery exhaustion, 3. Application speed (like google service) . 4. each phone’s killer contents. 5. each phone’s strength and weakness. 6. UI and UX comparison. 7. How it feels to actually use it.

There is no way of confirming whether several major media have intentionally distorted the information as a favor to Samsung or they do believe in their theory. However, South Korea has traditionally been a fortress of Samsung. The government is its guardian and Korean people understand it as a national pride, creating a new word ‘Samsung Republic’ as in South Korea’s official name, ‘Republic of Korea’. It is a sweet fruit of the government’s export driven economy and a living incarnation of Korean entrepreneurship backed by government’s support even to the point its’ fault went nearly unpunished. Local media has been very generous on Samsung related cases.

But this patriotism card seems backfiring. When iPhone 3 debuted several months ago, news article indiscriminately disparaging the iPhone have overflowed the internet space. Korean young generation have responded these criticism with unprecedented huge sold outs. There are around 800 thousand iPhone users in Korea. As iPhone 4 is planning to enter Korean market around the last week of July, Galaxy S debuted last week, backed by local media’s eulogy on it.

A blogger who introduced himself as working in tech field said he is planning to buy iPhone despite he can get his company’s financial support when buying other smart phone. Under the title ‘the time when people used to buy local brands out of patriotism has passed by’, he wrote a post stressing that even though Galaxy S is a fine smart phone, Samsung has to shift its strategies in a way no longer rouse people’s anger by cheap ‘patriotism move’ and media manipulation.

제품을 봤을때 솔직히 놀라웠다. 애플이 상당한 격차로 앞서나가고 내년쯤에 안드로이드 기반이 안정되면 그때 대항마가 나올거라는 예상을 했기 때문이다. 그러나 생각외로 삼성의 갤럭시S는 내 예상을 뛰어넘는 굉장히 훌륭한 제품이었다…하여튼 문제는 앞으로 제품을 소비할 젊은층들에게 삼성이 반감을 산다면 그건 기업미래에 매우 좋지 않은 영향을 끼친다는 점이다. 어르신들의 경우에는 국내메이커에 대한 선호도가 강하고 또 삼성의 제품이 우수하기 때문에 충성도가 강하다. 하지만 지금의 세대는 글로벌 기업의 제품에 노출도 많이 되었거니와 선호도도 뚜렷하다. 이는 더 이상 독도광고 등 애국심 드립으로는 해결하기 어려운 것을 의미한다…하지만 스마트폰이나 최근 IT분야에서는 기존과는 다른 접근방식이 필요해 보인다…내가 봤을때 삼성은 굉장히 꽉 짜여져 있다는 느낌이 강하다. 보다 유연해 질 필요가 있다…타 업체의 장점을 유연하게 수용할 필요가 있다.

The product (referring Galaxy S) was impressive. I previously assumed that since Apple is moving so much ahead, it will not till next year when the android platform is stabilized and the iPhone killer will emerge. But Samsung’s Galaxy S is an unpredictably marvelous product…The problem is that if Samsung got young generation’s pet aversion, it affect very adversely to the future of the corporate. In case of older generation, they are quite loyal to local brands. The current generation, however, they grew up exposed to global brands and they came to develop clear preference. It means that patriotism card like Dok-do ad no longer works… The smart phones and current IT require a different approach from strategies used to sell other products… I think Samsung is bit up-tight. It needs to be more flexible… Samsung needs to more open in adopting other companies’ strong quality.

More in next post South Korea: (iPhone 2) A Hierarchical Society Cannot Make an iPhone

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