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South Korea: (iPhone 2) A Hierarchical Society Cannot Make an iPhone

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. See Part 1 Patriotism and Media Manipulation Backfires.

A blogger Djhan commented though Samsung has strong hardware, it needs develop its own software, stressing releasing new model without radical innovation is just a ‘hoodwink’ to customer.

삼성에서 신형 안드로이드 폰 갤럭시 S가 나왔다. 옴니아 1과 옴니아 2라는 초대형 자책골이 터진 게 엊그제 같지만, 이미 지나간 과거는 과거일 뿐이다. 신문, 잡지, 그리고 파워 블로거들은 이번에야말로 제대로 된 아이폰 대항마가 나왔다며 난리 브루스다. 그놈의 지긋지긋한 대항마 타령이야 어찌 됐건, 갤럭시 S가 괜찮은 제품이란 건 사실인 것 같다…애플은 PC업계에서 마이너리티에 속했던 시절, 자신들만의 특장점을 확보하기 위해 필사적으로 발버둥쳤다. 그리고 파워피씨 CPU, MacOS(클래식), MacOS X 등을 내놓았다…반면 삼성전자는 경쟁사도 쓰는 CPU와 공짜 OS, 통신사가 만든 앱 스토어에 의지하고 있다. 애플은 고사하고 HTC와의 차별점을 만들기도 쉽지 않다…피쳐폰 분야에서는 사소한 기능 추가나 사소한 부품 개선이나 사소한 UI 변경만으로도 눈에 띄는 변화를 만들 수 있었다. 하지만 스마트폰에선 그런 눈속임이 통하지 않는다.

Samsung’s new android phone Galaxy S came out. It felt like only day before yesterday that Samsung made gigantic suicide goals like Omnia 1 and Omnia 2(different from LG’s OZ Omnia), but anyway that belongs to the past. Newspaper, magazines and power bloggers are hectic efforts to praising the Galaxy S as the ultimate iPhone killer. Though I am so sick of those ‘iPhone killer phones’ comments, but still Galaxy S is a good product…Apple, when they were minor power in the computer business, Apple tried so hard to build up its own distinguishing quality (contents or functions) and went on releasing the power PC, Mac OS(Classic) and Mac OS X etc,. On the contrary, Samsung relies on the same CPU the competitors are using, the free OS and the app store other telecommunication company is providing. Samsung is barely differencing itself from HTC let alone Apple… In case of a feature phone, a slight difference like adding a minor function and changing phone parts created a conspicuous difference. But for smartphones, those kinds of hoodwink do not work.

Tech blogger are pouring various sharp reviews on the Galaxy S and their comments, though too diverse to suffice it into one sentence, reached a common ground of Galaxy’s ‘screen is quite a spec but applications lack’. A blogger Seobongsoo commented that while there is no major difference between two model’s hardware, other than Samsung’s cutting-edge, beautiful AMOLED screen, Apple has the edge over Samsung in applications.

하드웨어는 비슷 : 두 제품의 외관은 큰 차이가 없다… 아이폰4는 ‘레티나(망막) 디스플레이’ 기술을 통해 해상도가 960×640 화소를 제공한다…반면 갤럭시S는 해상도에선 800×480 화소로 다소 떨어지는 편이나 디스플레이는 슈퍼아몰레드를 장착, 밝은 낮에도 화면을 볼 수 있다…소프트웨어, 아이폰4 우세 : 소프트웨어 측면에서 아이폰4는 22만 5,000개의 어플리케이션을 제공한다. 갤럭시S는 구글 안드로이드 마켓과 SK텔레콤의 T스토어 등으로 9만여 개 정도의 어플리케이션을 확보했다.

Hardware similar : There is no major difference on the exterior… iPhone 4 offers 960×640 definition from its Retina display. While Galaxy may lower in definition, it uses Super Amoled display, providing a clear screen in bright sunlight…Software, iPhone 4 prevails : iPhone has 225 thousand applications. While Galaxy secured 90 thousand applications from Google android market and SK telecommunication’s T store.

These comments are gaining strength by several news articles and Ahn Cheol Soo’s comment. Ahn Cheol Soo, one of most highly respected and loved business men and president of Ahnlab, a biggest virus protection company in Korea, commented in a lecture KBS(Korean Broadcasting System) hosted that unless Samsung radically shift its paradigm, it will likely to lose competition with Apple. Ahn elaborated that under Asian culture of strict hierarchy, numerous companies voluntary participation is nearly impossible as done in the Apple’s App Store.

Many bloggers, enthusiastically rooting for his comment posted a note they took from the lecture. A blogger Neoteny85 summarized few points on why Korea cannot make iPhone. Ahn pointed out in the lecture that the hierarchical structure of Korean language has formed Korean society, making people living under, including Samsung feel comfortable about the horizontal formation. According to Ahn, Korean corporates have placed software below hardware and located their affiliated or subcontracted companies under them, and thereby failed in forming a strong network, let alone minimizing their creativity. Even though the top-down approach focusing only on the efficiency has worked in past decade, it has reached a tipping point as the technology converged.

iPhone. 단순한 휴대폰이 아니다. 한국 대기업들은 수직적인 효율화에 강하다. (반면)아이폰은
수평적 네트워크 모델이다…수평적 사고방식은…상대방의 장점을 적극적으로 살리고 자발적인 협조를 통한 융합(을 이룬다, 이것은) 수직적 사고방식으로는 절대로 불가능하다…Convergence 시대에서는 수평적 사고방식이 정말 중요하다…(그러나) 한국인(은) 불리한 언어구조(를 가지고 있다). (한국어는)존칭의 구조가 다양한 언어구조(이며). 언어라는 게 사고 체계를 지배하기 마련이어서 처음부터…학교 출신, 나이를 구분 지어 비교해본 다음에 자신보다 위인지 아래인지 파악을 해야 대화를 시작하는 우리나라 사람들의 특징(이 있다)…언어구조적인 문제를 극복해야 융합의 시대에 살아남을 수 있다.

An iPhone is not just any cell phone… Big Korean corporates are strong in vertical (hierarchical) efficiency. However, iPhone has the horizontal network model. This horizontal approach brings round the convergence by activating other’s strengths and getting voluntary assistance from them. This is impossible in the vertical efficiency model. This horizontal model is pivotal in the era of convergence. Korea is disadvantageous due to Korean language structure. Korea has several levels of honorific languages and the language molds how people think. Koreans have to check first other’s educational background and age to figure out whether they are under or above them in order to choose the appropriate language (or honorific terms)…Unless we overcome this language structural barrier, we cannot survive through this age of convergence.

Remaining problem for Apple is the risk control before the iPhone 4’s reception issue reached a debacle. Blogger have criticized Apple for its arrogance and its’ vexing repair service. The latest iPhone 4’s signal reception issue makes more people grumble. A blogger Cadenzah commented even though he is a ‘slave for Apple’, he was deeply disappointed at Apple. He added, however, even though he decided to spend the money he saved to buy iPhone 4 on other things, Korean consumers will still chase after Apple.

GIZMODO 때도 그랬지만, Apple은 확실히 너무 자기Pride가 강해서, 소비자들에 대해 인색한 면이 강한 것 같네요. 이제 와서 말하기도 참 새삼스럽지만 말이죠…수신감도 관련 불만 메일에 대해 ‘A/S를 일절 마라'고 지시한 Jobs의 태도며…Apple 측에서 공식 발표한 수신강도 관련 답변까지…약 1주 사이에 일어난 일련의 사건들입니다만 하나하나가 모두 애플에 대해 실망을 감출 수 없게 만드네요…확실히 iPhone이 대단한 건, 아니 Apple의 창조력이 대단한 건 사실이고 그만큼 Apple팬들을 많이 양산해냈고 저로 하여금 사과의 노예로 만든 것도 사실이지만…이제 iPhone 4 국내 발매까지 1달이 채 안 남았네요. 사견입니다만 지금 품절상태가 심각한 걸로 미루어볼 때 국내에서도 품귀현상이 일어날 건 불 보듯 뻔합니다.

Same as what happened in GIZMODO case, Apple has strong ego(pride) and plays very cheap to the customers- which is a general knowledge by now. Jobs commanding not to give repair service on reception problem…and Apple’s official statement on people’s complaints on the reception issue. These series of incidents have all happened within a week, and all the attitude Apple has shown is very disappointing… Though, what is great about Apple, is Apple’s creativity that made huge Apple fan group in Korea and drove me into becoming a slave for Apple…It is less than a month before iPhone 4 release in Korea. I believe, it is a no brainer the iPhone 4 will run short in supply based on all the previous sold outs in other countries.

A blogger Mekiboss commented iPhone 4’s glitch has given a great reason for Samsung’s advocates to lash out on iPhone, adding Apple also needs to build more repair centers and streamline repair service like Samsung.

‘아이폰을 무찌를 갤럭시S’ 라는 느낌이 강하게 풍기는 기사들. 아이폰4의 안테나 문제 논란까지 겹치면서 논란이 더욱 심화된것 같습니다…저는 삼성제품을 좋아합니다. ‘부모님께 선물할 가전제품을 골라라’ 한다면 저는 별다른 고민없이 삼성제품을 선택할 것입니다. 대기업에서 주는 안정감이란 장점은 절대 무시할 수 없습니다. 매장도 많고. AS센터도 많구요.

Many news articles are strongly insinuating that Galaxy S will kill I-phone. This argument has gained power by the I-phone’s antenna defection…I do love Samsung. If I were to choose to pick a home appliance for my parents as a gift, I will not hesitate in picking Samsung’s. The stability a big corporate (in Korea) gives cannot be ignored. Samsung has lots of stores(retailers) and repair centers.

The blogger Mekiboss later concluded that despite all due respect to Samsung’s good repair service, he still want to try smartphones out before buying any.

In a landscape where the top-down approach has become obsolete, Samsung who feels comfortable with hierarchical formation is facing an uphill battle with Apple’s creative, horizontal network.

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