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BlackBerry hasn’t yet begun to fight

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Don’t you hate it when you buy something and a newer model comes out soon after?  I only know about 7 people who got the only Blackberry available in Korea, including myself, and many times more who own an iPhone.  Almost everyone I know back home has a Blackberry but apparently it’s not catching on in Korea.  Definitely my favourite phone though in terms of features and usability.

BlackBerry hasn’t yet begun to fight
업그레이드 블랙베리
April 22, 2010
A model holds up BlackBerry smartphones from Research in Motion. The device has not caught on among consumers here, but the Canada-based company and its partner SK Telecom say they focused on corporate customers. [YONHAP]

Canada’s mobile-phone maker Research in Motion, best known for its mobile business device the BlackBerry, says its marketing in Korea is just beginning and it’s here for the long term.

With SK Telecom, Korea’s top mobile service provider, RIM introduced the new BlackBerry Bold 9700 model to the Korean press yesterday.

The latest model is the successor of the BlackBerry Bold 9000, a hit handset in the United States and Europe that became available for corporate consumers in Korea in December 2008, and at retail in June 2009.

The Bold 9700 has the typical Black-Berry features, including the signature Qwerty keyboard, but with the new BlackBerry OS 5.0, which offers enhanced e-mail and calendar functions.

Most notable is its slightly smaller size, thanks to a new optical track pad, which works like the sensor on a optical mouse and replaces the mechanical rubber trackball on older models.

“There is a perception that BlackBerry hasn’t been successful in Korea. But I beg to differ,” said Norm Lo, RIM’s Asia-Pacific vice president, to reporters yesterday at a Seoul hotel. “Korea is a very important market for us, offering tremendous growth and opportunity in terms of smartphones and wireless technology.

“Our strategy in Korea is a phased approach. So we’ve not actually marketed [BlackBerry] in all segments.”

Strictly from a sales perspective, the BlackBerry hasn’t been a consumer success. SKT said it sold just 30,000 BlackBerry Bold 9000s in Korea last year, compared to more than 500,000 units for the iPhone, which arrived around the same time and took only a few months to set a new sales record for a foreign-made handset.

RIM and SKT officials explain, however, that they initially targeted corporate consumers looking to set up mobile offices, which takes time but is “a very complex yet powerful strategy.” They said the process requires understanding how the firms mobilize their workers.

“We’ve distributed BlackBerrys to some 1,200 companies including Korean Air, Posco and Hyundai Hysco, mostly companies that do a lot of business with foreign partners or offices, installing the devices on their corporate networks and Internet,” said Kim Sun-hyeong, director of SKT’s solution business office.

But officials at RIM hope the Bold 9700 will appeal to individual professionals and retail consumers with added functions like social networking.

“BlackBerry is trying to change the way people communicate and allow the way social networking was originally meant to be,” said Zane Moi, RIM’s Asia-Pacific regional director, highlighting in particular BlackBerry Messenger 5.0, which allows virtual discussion in real time, including a feature to display whether what you’ve sent is being read.

Another element RIM officials hope will attract Korean consumers is access to its App World store, which hasn’t been available until now.

Preorders for the new model began yesterday, and the phone will hit the retail market in May.

By Kim Hyung-eun [hkim@joongang.co.kr]

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Written by recruiterinkorea

April 22, 2010 at 11:04 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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