Local mobile phone maker Pantech (local brand name SKY) has announced its new Android-based smartphone this week and targeted the Apple iPhone to bring down.
Pantech is the third-largest mobile maker in Korea besides Samsung and LG. Pantech used to hold the third position in the local market, but after the smartphone market kicked off, the company went up to second behind Samsung. Pantech currently has two Android-based smartphones beside this new Android smartphone call "SKY Vega (IM-A650S)".
Korea's mobile market was a tough one for all international phone makers such as Nokia, Motorola, Sony Erricson and HTC. None of them have succeeded in this market and Apple made an impact on the Korean market only with its iPhone 3GS. It sold 0.8 million units of the iPhone 3GS just seven months into Korea, which is amazing given that this is a single model and the smartphone market is not a big segment that market researchers have been too concerned about until it became a new trend in the country.
Local phone makers like Samsung, LG and Pantech have started to bring out their smarpthones to compete with Apple, and as you know, Samsung has been doing really well with its Galaxy S, though LG seems quite silent till today. Pantech has also started to do battle in the smartphone market with its debut Android-based smartphone call "SKY Sirius" in conjunction with SK Telecom and a second model called "IZAR" jointly with KT.
SKY Vega is the hottest and top-rated smartphone from Pantech competing with Apple, and it will be released in the US market soon after the deal is finalized with partners like AT&T and Verizon in the US.
Pantech's VP Byeong-Yeop Park commented in his speech that "our SKY Vega is a user-friendly device and won't ask you to hold it with sudden position. Vega can be hold as you want and talk quality (antenna) will not be affected by your hand position".
Let's see what advantage the SKY Vega has against the Apple iPhone. The SKY Vega is an Android 2.1-based smartphone with Qualcomm's 1GHz Snapdragon processor embedded. There's a 3.7-inch AMOLED display and 3D user interface. But the weight is only 114.3g. A 5-megapixel autofocus camera is embedded and able to record 720p HD videos. The main difference between the Apple iPhone and the Pantech will be that the latter has a lighter weight even though it sports a bigger LCD panel and digital TV tuner to support T-DMB (mobile TV).
Most journalists like to add Apple as a competitor in their smartphone reviews, but Pantech and its VP commented to the local press in an introductory clip that it's like what Steve Jobs did to IBM a long time ago.
See the video clip below. It's in Korean, but I'm sure most of you won't need to know the actual words to understand what Pantech is saying with this.
The Apple iPhone 4 is supposed to be released in Korea by the end of July, but Jobs did allude in his July 16 press conference something about "with the omission of just South Korea, because it just takes a little longer to get government approval there". Well, July 16 is July 17 in Korea, and it's a Saturday, but Jobs' recent speech has had a huge impact on Korea. KT, which is currently servicing the Apple iPhone 3GS and is likely to be the main supplier and carrier for the iPhone 4, said there should be little issue obtaining approval from the Korea Communications Commission (KCC). Before this announcement, KT's VP Hyun-Myung Pyo also tweeted his opinion about this on Twitter in response to customers' protests.
However, we don't know who to listen to. KCC and related government bodies have also released a short message to the public that Apple hasn't submitted any document for the iPhone 4 approval yet.
All this happened over the weekend, and KT and the Government usually not work on this days or release press news.
Also, the interesting part is that Pantech has begun an IT retail and distribution business in Korea and its retail store name will be called "LOTS". LOTS will install Apple iPads and iPhone 4 handsets to provide an experience lounge for local customers, which the local APR and AAR are unable to service till the devices' official release.
Pantech has appoint Apple as its target to compete against in order to secure the local market and plans to take the competition to Apple's home country, too.
Let's see how SKY Vega will appeal to . It seems Vega has a few months' headstart as the iPhone 4 release will be likely delayed for Korea.