New iPhones set to hit Korean shelves

Apple's iPhone 6 Plus (left) and Samsung's Galaxy Note 4.

The worldwide craze over the new iPhones will hit the South Korean market on Friday when the iPhone 6 and its variant the 6 Plus go on sale here.

This time, the so-called iPhone effect will have a more significant impact on the Korean smartphone market than ever, according to industry watchers.

The first round of preorders was filled last Friday by the mobile carriers SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus in less than 30 minutes.

It is estimated that the total number of preorders will reach at least 80,000 units - 50,000 via KT and 20,000 via LGUplus with the rest through SK Telecom - surpassing the 30,000 units of Samsung Electronics' flagship Galaxy Note 4 preordered here.

Though the battle has just begun, the latest figures are especially meaningful for Apple since the California-based firm has thrashed Samsung on its home turf.

Apple currently accounts for less than 6 per cent of the market share here, while the Korean smartphone manufacturer boasts a 63 per cent market share, according to market researcher Counter Point Research.

Some market analysts predicted that Apple could secure a record-high market share in Korea thanks to the 4.7-inch iPhone and the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus.

Pressured by the US tech giant, Samsung recently reduced the prices of some of its smartphones, including the Galaxy S4 LTE-A, while LG cut the prices of its mid-range G3 Beat and G3A.

Samsung, which released the Galaxy Note 4 on Sept. 26 in Korea weeks before the launch of the iPhones, also started selling the flagship smartphone Galaxy Note Edge, featuring a curved display on the right-hand side of the device, from Tuesday.

"There are not many options for Samsung and LG to counter the iPhone 6 and low-budget Chinese smartphones except for cutting the prices of their products," Kim Young-chan, an analyst from Shinhan Investment wrote in a report.

He predicted that the iPhones will outsell the Galaxy Note 4 by tenfold, with 80 million units shipped worldwide in the October-December period.

Other market watchers also are expressing doubts about the performance of Korean tech giants.

"It seems inevitable for Samsung and LG to be affected by Apple's new devices, which show off better integration between hardware and software and user experience than those of the local firms," said an industry official who declined to be named.

When the new Apple devices arrive in Seoul, the front pages of local newspapers and online news sites will be once again be plastered with pictures of customers lining up - with some even camping out - in front of Apple shops and other retailers to get their hands on the devices.

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