Just as it prepared to launch the iPhone X to tech-savvy South Koreans, Seoul’s regulatory authorities (accompanied by a battalion of police officers) have raided Apple’s offices.
The raid will likely raise political questions as to whether South Korean authorities are trying to hamper the success of the X, which has pretty much sold out across the world.
Though Apple products are very popular in South Korea, it is, of course, the home of several giant tech firms including Samsung and LG.
The iPhone X sold out in South-Korea as soon as it became available for pre-order and is likely to be snapped up when it goes on sale on Friday, November 24, which will put a huge dent in the sales of Apple’s competitors’ products. Furthermore, with Cyber Monday just around the corner, sales expectations were high for the product in South Korea.
The South Korean Fair Trade Commission opened an investigation early last year already to discover whether Apple struck ‘unfair’ contracts with local phone networks, known as ‘bundling’ a better price for its product to a long-term contract with a network provider.
Though the Fair Trade Commission has not yet reacted to the latest raid news, it’s understood by local journalists that this week’s raid is part of that ongoing probe.
At the time when the probe was first launched, South Korean officials wanted Apple to address their concern about other ‘unfair’ contracts with South Korean firms commissioned to repair iPhones and other gadgets.
The US telecoms industry has been critical of South Korean authorities in the past, certainly when it sided with Samsung in its ongoing fight over patents with Apple and when it fined Qualcomm for antitrust practices.
Mr Erik Telford, president of the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity, stated: “South Korea’s anti-trust agency has exhibited alarming behavior that threatens the viability of companies doing business in South Korea, including such major American corporations as Apple, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle, and Qualcomm.”