iPhone not so popular in Korea, why is that?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by 212rikanmofo, Oct 4, 2014.

  1. 212rikanmofo macrumors 68000

    Jan 31, 2003
    I just came back from a trip to Korea and noticed that everyone there mostly uses Samsung or LG phones. There are a few who use iPhone and was curious as to why?

    I'm assuming they're biased since Samsung is a Korean company? Or is it because the iPhone is too expensive there?

    Would like to hear your thoughts and opinion on this.

    Just a friendly discussion here, not trying to start a Samsung vs iPhone war.
  2. antiprotest macrumors 65816


    Apr 19, 2010
    I believe part of the explanation is that the people wish to support Korean companies, and the companies probably have some very heavy presence and marketing there. You will see the same thing in Taiwan, where many people will use HTC and Acer devices.

    The TV dramas in these countries also display their products very often and very prominently.
  3. jlake02 macrumors 68020


    Nov 2, 2008
    Few things more Korean than Samsung. I'm sure it's the cool brand to have there.

  4. rambo47 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 3, 2010
    Denville, NJ
    Samsung OWNS the Korean market. Hometown favorite, constant marketing, and Apple has not pushed as hard in Korea as in other markets.
  5. Shadowbech macrumors 601

    Oct 18, 2011
    Planet iPhone
    Yep Samsung is what drives the Korean Economy. I was there last summer, visiting my family. Anyways, if you notice, most Koreans watch DMB (TV on a mobile phone) when they commute or on their phone most of the time, and iPhones don't have that capability to watch tv on the phone so they mostly will go with samsung or LG or other Korean brand. Also the fact that all phones in Korea comes with spare batteries as well.
  6. Rafterman macrumors 68020

    Apr 23, 2010
    Plus, Korea tends to get the cooler and more high end versions of things there. For example, Korea was one of the few places to get the mythical 64GB version of the Note 3. Also, it was not uncommon for cellphone versions there to have integrated TV receivers in the past. Things we never got s whiff of in North America or even Europe.
  7. 212rikanmofo thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jan 31, 2003
    Very interesting, so do you think the people there dislike the iPhone just because it's Apple and not made by Koreans?

    I also see a lot of people there using selfie sticks attached to their phones to take selfies. Very popular over there.
  8. willmtaylor macrumors G3


    Oct 31, 2009
    A Natural State
    I don't think liking Samsung or LG necessitates disliking Apple, contrary to most rabid fanboys on either side would have you believe.
  9. Newtons Apple macrumors Core

    Newtons Apple

    Mar 12, 2014
    Jacksonville, Florida
    No other country is more saturated with Apple products than the USA. I suspect the Koreans are buying out of loyalty and a better price, also.
  10. scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007
    I don't think its that they hate Apple for the sake of hating Apple, but rather that Koreans know who butters their bread. Samsung is a major driver to their economy, so it makes sense to have some pride in it and support it. Much like Canadians, particularly those around Ontario, are rabidly supportive of BlackBerry. And for much of its existence, the Finnish were very supportive of Nokia.

    It's always easiest to root for the home team.
  11. meraki1990 macrumors newbie

    Oct 24, 2011
    Well, as a Korean studying abroad, I guess I can shed some perspective.

    Koreans aren't really LOYAL to Samsung or LG, rather, the phenomenon lies in the way the cellphone market is run.

    In Korea, just like the US, we purchase phones with 2-year contracts, which allow subsidy prices and less of a burden upfront than when buying device only.

    In Korea, this subsidy is broken down into two parts- the manufacturer subsidy, and the network provider subsidy- the two can add up to be a significant amount, and depending on certain times of the day, the "slickdeals moment" should I say, you can purchase a phone for literally $0, just paying the monthly bills. Of course this is a rare occasion and only happens twice, maybe three times a year for brand new phones, and it's very hard to catch at the specific moment.

    The problem here with iPhones is that Apple doesn't offer subsidies for iPhones in Korea. Thus, prices of iPhones are relatively higher than Samsung or LG phones as they can add on manufacturer subsidies in addition to the network provider subsidies, and thus iPhones are generally more expensive than the other phones.

    But still, we love iPhones! Who wouldn't?
  12. jeremydc macrumors member

    Oct 9, 2013
    I've been living in Korea for almost 2 years. Samsung owns the government and manipulates the market. They basically control everything. Iphones are actually very popular here but it's taxed and the prices are crazy. I bought my 64 gb 5s for over a 1000$ because I refused to buy into the manipulation. I didn't mind the premium because it's my first Apple product and very happy with it.

    What most of you don't know is that Samsung, LG and even cars are more than the states. These companies jack the prices because they can and the government allows it. Seriously, the exact same phones, tvs, washers, etc are hundreds cheaper in the states. Koreans got smart and began ordering from Amazon and the government started banning certain products from being imported here.

    Anyways, it is popular and many of my Korean friends prefer apple products, even at a premium.
  13. greatness macrumors member

    Jun 15, 2014
    Apple launches in Korea through providers (SK/KT Olleh/LG U+) and performs repairs through authorized resellers. Customer service has been getting a lot better (Apple Korea actually is much easier to work with than when the iPhone first launched in Korea and may even offer reapairs- not sure) but that is another aspect with buying from a local manufacturer.

    Marketing is another- both with prices (subsidy) and the perception that Korean phones are used everywhere (commercials/movies/drama) adds to the image. Samsung Corp. accounts for close to 20% of Korea's GDP; you can understand the effect it has on the regular Korean household.

    Until this iteration of the iPhone, display size and battery life were not as satisfactory for the amazing amount of media consumption done on a daily basis. I'm sure any other nation with a huge public transportation infrastructure will understand. As for the middle aged folks, I have personally heard the iPhone's display was too small to see anything (probably more a perception issue than actual size). Local manufacturers can also cater very quickly to Korea-specific needs better than Apple can, such as DMB (mentioned in a previous post) and LTE-A.

    The iPhone is actually pretty popular in Korea (Apple fanboys are actually referred to as "app-ppa") but you don't get enough exposure compared to other products. Not being a "first launch" country keeps the excitement level suppressed a bit as well.

    Sorry for the essay but I hope it provided a little more insight.
  14. erure macrumors regular

    Apr 13, 2010
    There definitely are people who swear by iPhones and stick to them despite the fact that they have to pay a huge premium for them. Another thing to note is the lack of official Apple Stores in Korea. If there's something wrong with your iPhone, you have to deal with the carrier for exchange/return which will be a huge PITA and also if there's something wrong with it after the return/exchange period, there are only third party repair stores to go to, since there aren't any Apple Stores.
  15. teabonesteak macrumors regular

    Sep 10, 2014
    when i talk to fobs from korea, they love iphones.
  16. Sparkeze macrumors 6502a


    Sep 18, 2014

    Probably because it's expensive there. Anything considered an import is, so it's a status symbol in a way to own something not Korean made.
  17. opoo macrumors newbie

    Sep 25, 2014
    Samsung phone is more expensive in Korean than US and Iphone price is almost the same price with Samsung phone in Korea.
  18. Starfyre macrumors 68030


    Nov 7, 2010
  19. mjb59463 macrumors 6502

    Jan 10, 2012
    SK has Samsung, NK has the Pyongyang Touch.

    This is why.
  20. frankdogg macrumors 6502


    Mar 24, 2011
    Mid-Wilshire LA
    iPhone and other apple products are actually popular amongst celebrities. My wife watches a lot of Korean TV: Dramas and Variety shows. In dramas, the placement of new smartphones and devices is everywhere. You can find the latest and greatest here even before they officially launch.

    However, when celebrities aren't in a CF or filming a drama, a lot of them personally use apple products.

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