Apple Extends iPhone 4S To 15 More Countries, Including Legal Hotspot Korea

Yesterday, figures out from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech underscored how Apple’s share of smartphone sales in several key countries had actually declined compared to last year. Today, Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) put out some news that points to how it hopes to reverse that trend: it announced the rollout of its newest iPhone, the 4S, into 15 more countries by November 11, taking the total to 44 countries in its goal of 70 by the end of the year. Included in the list is South Korea, home of Samsung, where the rival company (and manufacturing partner) is seeking an injunction on the device.

The country list released today by Apple covers several small markets plus a few biggies. The full list: Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, El Salvador, Greece, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Malta, Montenegro, New Zealand, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Romania and South Korea.

In September, Samsung had indicated that it would try to get an injunction on Apple’s newest iPhone in its home market, so a last-minute decision could affect Apple’s plans for South Korea.

However, so far, Samsung has not succeeded in its attempts to bar sales in other countries like France, Italy and the Netherlands. Those injunction threats were made when the world was still thinking that Apple would launch a completely remodelled iPhone this autumn, rather than the incremental upgrade it released instead.

Apple says that pre-orders for the iPhone 4S will begin on November 4 — this coming Friday — in all of the countries listed except for Albania, El Salvador, Guatemala, Malta, Montenegro and Panama.

Ramping up sales of the new device quickly is crucial for Apple to keep up sales momentum for its devices. Apple’s sales in the last quarter grew by 21 percent compared to the year before, but despite the growth, the numbers failed to meet analysts’ high expectations.

Many have put at least part of the cause down to buyers holding off in anticipation of a new model of the iPhone, rather than overall declining interest in Apple’s products in favor of those from competitors like Samsung and HTC.

Apple reported after the opening weekend of iPhone 4S sales that it had sold more than 4 million devices, a record for the company, even as it did not take into account that it was the widest distribution at launch of any iPhone yet.

In Q3 results reported in October, Apple said it sold 17 million iPhones worldwide — and as BGR points out, even as a rare miss, those numbers still translated to 45 percent of all smartphone sales for AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon, the two carriers selling the device that quarter in the U.S.