The commission's action comes after months of consumer pressure. For much of this year, the commission's reason for blocking the iPhone was that its built-in mapping capabilities violate a South Korean rule requiring the use of domestic technology for location-based services in cellphones. In its decision Wednesday, the commission created an exemption in the rule for iPhone.
"This is a big strike for the government in saying that this is an open market," said Chung Yun-ho, managing partner of Veyond Partners, a telecom consulting firm in Seoul. "Many people regard Korea as an advanced telecom market but they are acknowledging that we are lagging behind in smartphones. They wanted to pressure the telecom companies to embrace new things."
Apple's Beats brand in April unveiled the Powerbeats Pro, a redesigned wire-free version of its popular fitness-oriented Powerbeats earbuds.