Market remains unexcited about latest premium phones

By Song Su-hyun
  • Published : Mar 11, 2018 - 16:12
  • Updated : Mar 11, 2018 - 16:12
The South Korean smartphone market gave a tepid response to the release of the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ smartphones, driving down expectation on the newest premium smartphones this year.

According to the telecom industry, preorders of Galaxy S9 and S9+ devices made from Feb. 28 with subscriptions to one of three mobile carriers were estimated to near 180,000 units, reaching about 70 percent of the preorders of predecessors Galaxy S8 and S8+phones.

Samsung is launching the S9 series more than a month earlier than the previous S8 series in order to take advantage of an unusual market situation devoid of competitors in the first half of this year.

Samsung’s smartphone business head Koh Dong-jin aims to see the S9 series outnumber the predecessors in terms of sales volume by releasing the new phones earlier than before, he said at a press conference held in Barcelona on Feb. 26.

However, the latest ninth edition of Samsung Galaxy phones are facing lukewarm responses compared to the eighth edition that sold more than 260,000 units on its first day of release in April 2017.

Market observers attribute the lower-than-expected sales of the new Samsung phones to the slowing smartphone change cycle worldwide, in which consumers take a longer time to upgrade their smartphones than before.

Some also point out fewer innovative factors offered by the Galaxy S9 series, making it less appealing to users to replace their current phones.

Samsung is targeting users of Galaxy S7 and iPhone 7 series smartphones by offering trade-in discounts globally.

“We are also trying to shorten the smartphone life cycle of around two years by accurately targeting the right consumers through consumer data marketing for higher sales,” said Choi Kyung-sik, vice president at Samsung. 

Former figure skater Kim Yu-na (left) and speed skater Lee Seung-hoon (right) pose with the first Galaxy S9 phone subscriber with SK Telecom at a ceremony on Friday. (SK Telecom)

“Considering that the Galaxy S9 phones are the first models that are not officially supported by government subsidies, consumers are likely to watch price trends and the market atmosphere for a while,” said an official at a mobile carrier.

SK Telecom, the country’s No.1 telecom firm by subscribers, saw the number of subscribers with Galaxy S9 phones fall by 577 on the first day of the release on Friday, from the figure for Galaxy S8 subscribers last year. 

Consumers subscribe their Galaxy S9 and S9+ phones with KT on Friday. (KT)

In such a slow market, LG Electronics which launched an upgraded version of V30 smartphones, dubbed “V30S ThinQ” on Friday, is more focused on providing better after sales services.

The company is offering an upgraded operating system and artificial intelligence ThinQ platform for not only new buyers, but also existing V30 smartphone users.

“LG’s smartphone business will go back to the basics,” said Hwang Jeong-hwan, new smartphone head of the company at a press conference last month. “Our new focus will be on caring for existing consumers with better after sales services.”

By Song Su-hyun (