Earlier this morning we were greeted with the good news about iPhone 6 pre-orders in India and South Korea over the weekend. In India, Apple pre-orders of the iPhone 6 sold out in 72 hours. In South Korea, the numbers for the iPhone 6 were phenomenal, outpacing presales of Samsung's new smartphones handily. But that good news didn't sit well South Korea's press who immediately began to attack Apple on their neglect of the Korean market as being arrogant.
South Korea's press wasted no time in attacking Apple today after news of the iPhone 6 pre-orders were through the roof and outpacing Samsung smartphone pre-orders. The Korean report stated that "Apple is continuing to keep its investment in Korea to a minimum, despite Korean consumers' enthusiasm for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus."
To rile South Korean's against Apple, they pointed out that "Apple announced on Oct. 26 that it is going to set up 25 more Apple Stores in China within two years in addition to the 15 already open. However, the company is not running any Apple Store in Korea, although it has done business in the country for five years. Instead, Apple Premium Resellers (APRs) such as Frisbee [see Frisbee video, a high-end Apple-like Store], eMart Apple Shop, and A Sharp are in charge of the supply and sale of its products in Korea."
Their anger was evident when they lashed out stating that "Even Zimbabwe has one," referring to a brick and mortar Apple Store. They further noted that "At present, 250 Apple Stores are found in the United States alone and approximately 420 worldwide."
Then the Korean Press just got silly if not petty in an effort to turn sentiment against Apple in South Korea. The report quotes an "industry insider" stating that the reason that Apple doesn't want to open an Apple Store in Korea is because "the Apple headquarters applies very strict requirements to Apple Store candidates. According to the [Apple] marketing division, an Apple Store has to be set up in a very busy street with as much floating population as in Gangnam and Myeongdong. But the rent should be low, and such a place is hard to come by in Korea."
Is that reality or propaganda? We posted a report in June of this year titled "Apple Opens New Store in Tokyo on Upscale Omotesandō Street." We noted in that report that "Today, Omotesandō is known as one of the foremost 'architectural showcase' streets in the world, featuring a multitude of fashion flagship stores within a short distance of each other. These include the Louis Vuitton store, the Prada building and Dior to name a few." That blows up their argument that an Apple Store can't find a spot in Korea that is cheap.
The report kept banging that negative drum against Apple. They noted that "Apple's share in the Korean smartphone market is below 5 percent as of the end of the second quarter of this year. However, it maintains sales of over 2 trillion won (US$19 billion) here thanks to the high popularity of iPads and Macs. Its sales in Korea, in addition, are expected to reach 3 trillion won (US$2.85 billion) after the release of the new iPhones. When it comes to Apple's per-capita sales, Korea is the company's most important market. Attention is being paid to when Apple is going to take proper care of Korean customers."
At the website infoapplestore.com/future-apple-stores/ we were able to see that there's been speculation that a Korean Apple Store may be on Apple's drawing board, though they carefully added that "political and financial conditions make South Korea a less likely target."
At present, Apple is still politically restricted from entering the Indian market because the government there has too high a bar to keep big foreign stores out of their country. While it's currently unknown as to what exactly the political situation is in South Korea that could be holding Apple back, it's not because of "Apple's stinginess," as framed by the Korean Press.
In the end the Korean press went on the attack today, demanding to know when Apple will open a high-end store in Korea. Despite their cheap-shots at Apple, Apple should make some kind of informal statement during their next financial conference call to clear this point up.
South Korean Apple fans deserve to experience the truly exceptional sales and service of an Apple Store as experienced by other fans worldwide. And with the iPhone 6 sales going through the roof this past weekend, it's high time that they get a rational explanation of what the hang up has been thus far and/or hear a clear announcement or indication of when they could expect to see their first flagship Apple Store coming to their country.