June 22, 2009 10:31
Nokia, Sony Ericsson, HTC and other international mobile phone makers failed to make significant inroads into the Korean market this year. Sources in the domestic telecom industry said among globally successful smartphones, only 3,000 RIM BlackBerrys and 1,200 HTC Touch Diamonds were sold here since their introduction late last year and early this year.
The world's top handset maker Nokia sold only 10,000 units since April, when it returned to Korea for the first time in six years. Only Sony Ericsson made a dent, selling 18,000 Xperias since March.
Among domestic firms, by contrast, Samsung sold 110,000 Omnia smartphones alone since November despite the steep price tag of W1 million. Experts say consumers buy foreign products only when they have unique features that distinguish them their Korean equivalent.
In one failed attempt, Nokia tried to sell old models with a price tag of W390,000 (US$1=W1,272). Although the Finnish giant is discussing a launch of new models with Korean telecoms, it failed to make an impression on consumers here.
Earlier this month, Apple announced a plan to launch a new iPhone that operates two to three times faster than the old ones in 30 countries including the U.S. and Germany but Korea was excluded from the list.
An executive with a Korean handset maker said on condition of anonymity, "If foreign manufactures do not expand their investment in the Korean market and release only old products here, they're unlikely to satisfy Korean consumers, who are very picky."
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