The tablet from Samsung has reportedly sold 400,000 units in the two months since its launch, while Apple has only recorded 98,000 iPad sales in a similar time frame, an unusual situation for the all-conquering device to find itself. Sales in the West remain unaffected. Is it that Apple just doesn’t understand, or prioritise, its customers in East Asia? Does it care? Or is its closed-wall policy on launching in the territory shooting itself in the foot?
Actually, one of the reasons for the Korean consumer forgoing the wizardry of Jobs’ mob is thought to be down to the availability of applications. While the iPad has an impressive 350,000 apps, compared to a paltry 150,000 for the Galaxy, according to Chosun Ilbo, when it comes to Korean content the Samsung device wins hands down.
The Galaxy Tab released in Korea is equipped with a massive range of mainstream magazine content and book store applications, while Apple has a very small store of Korean e-books.
Similarly game content is an issue with Korean law, which states that only games approved by its Game Rating Board are allowed, so Apple has apparently blocked access for Korean users to its own game category section.
While this problem is certainly prohibitive enough to explain partly why the Galaxy Tab has so vastly outsold the iPad, surely in all its experience of dominating markets Apple would not be edged out by a competitor simply over lack of content, even in such an established market as Korea?
It is clear that Apple has not given the country necessary attention in its launch, with the iPad hitting shelves in Korea a full five months after it was available in other parts of the world.
Samsung is a Korean company., Samsung, that is being preferred over the US firm, with Korean consumers loyal to local tech.
For example. It was said recently that Hwang Chang-gyu, a well respected and highly placed technological advisor in charge of R&D for government, recently admitted to owning an iPhone as well as a Samsung handset.
His claim that he even preferred the Apple device as it was “more convenient” was met by outrage by the public, leading to Chang-gyu swiftly backtracking and hurriedly placing emphasis on the positive elements of the Samsung product.
According to Keith Howard, a sociologist at the School of Oriental and African Studies, this is symptomatic of how Korean consumers can often be keen to support the country’s own tech firms.
“There is a long-standing reluctance to go Apple in Korea, not helped by the way that Apple has underinvested in the market,” Howard told TechEye.
“This has been the story of the last 20 years or so, so with the iPad nothing is new, and the delayed release by Apple would not have been taken well by consumers, who historically have felt that Apple is not concerned with apps in Korean/han’gul.”
“In contrast, of course, Samsung is a local company that has a very high name and rating in the local market, and with products that have always been perceived to be designed for East Asian consumers.”
“The fact that Samsung products get high marks internationally only serves to strengthen the dominance in the local market.”
If Apple wants to take a hold in the Korean tablet market – set to be just as huge as elsewhere – it will take more than dangling it in front of the consumer. It has to go the whole hog and localise. But with such strong sales figures in Western markets, perhaps it isn’t interested anyway.