South Korea has recently reduced their requirement for smartphones to be compliant with its WIPI (wireless Internet platform for interoperability) standard, which has lowered the barrier for entry to many foreign smartphones companies to enter the market.
However, despite efforts, Nokia, Research in Motion (RIM) and HTC have not seen the success hoped for against entrenched local rivals Samsung and LG.
Sony Ericsson, has been the rare success story. The company sold nearly 24,000 units of the Xperia X1 in 3 months through wireless carrier SK Telecom, despite charging a hefty 800,000 won (about $640).
The popularity even forced Samsung to lower the price of its T-Omnia smart phone at one point.
â€œWe can proudly say that Xperia is one of the best smart phones available here ? there is no phone by any other maker that particularly impresses me ? and that there is no technical flaw to the devices,” said Han Youn-hee, the head of Sony Ericsson’s Korean marketing unit in an interview with The Korea Times.
Xperia’s popularity in Korea can be partially explained by the company’s efforts to customize the phone for local users, an area where Sony’s experience in the Korean market certainly helped, Han said.
Xperia and SK Telecom collaborated for nearly a year to develop localized programs for Xperia, which include new â€œpanels” for the phone’s Xpanel home screen. The Xperia X1 was also one of the few phones allowed to be sold with WIFI intact, unlike most of SK Telecomâ€™s stable.
Sony Ericsson, through Sony Korea’s existing network, is offering more than 69 service centers for Xperia users around the country, which gives them a competitive edge over other foreign companies who are developing unflattering reputations for poor after-service.
â€œSony products were never about necessity ? the company doesn’t have a reputation for refrigerators or irons. But Sony has always been good at finding value in the things consumers would enjoy having, such as the Walkman, which brought the stereo out of the living room,” Han said.
â€œThis is the point we are trying to deliver through Xperia.”
He declined to say when the company would release its next handset in Korea, although he added that the company expects to have â€œa few” new phones by this time next year.
Read the full article at KoreanTimes here.