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  • Apple Computer Hopes to Penetrate Korean Retail Market
  • November 30, 1998 (SEOUL) -- Apple Computer Inc. recently introduced its iMac computer in Korea amidst hopes of attracting a nucleus of PC buyers.
    "Apple Computer Korea Inc. is shifting its focus from the professional segment to the larger retail market with the iMac and newer models, and we hope to expand our market share," said Kim Seung-tak, marketing manager of Apple Computer Korea.

    The company hired Kim Sok-ki, formerly president of Iomega Korea Inc., to head the business focusing on marketing and sales development. Kim, a 20-year IT veteran, has a record of success. During the first two years of its operations starting in 1997, Iomega Korea Inc., a subsidiary of the U.S.-based Zip drive maker, witnessed a doubling of its sales.

    "Initially, we must expand local distribution channels and sales networks. Our targets will be existing Macintosh users as well as the educational and retail markets," Kim said.

    Additionally, the iMac's unique design is likely to appeal to women in Korea, Kim noted.

    In recent years, the share of Macintosh computers in Korea has steadily declined, with many Mac customers migrating to the Windows system. Most users of Mac computers in Korea are in the desktop publishing and design industries.

    Elex Computer Inc., the exclusive Korean distributor of Mac computers since 1997, saw its sales fall more than 42 percent to 29.3 billion won (US23.3 million) in the January-June period, from a year earlier, following a 14 percent decline in 1997. The company registered a net loss of 1.6 billion won (US$1.3 million) in the first half after a net loss of 5.9 billion won (US$4.7 million) in 1997.

    Elex will remain an official distributor, although another Korean PC retailer recently obtained a license to sell the iMac.

    The two companies began selling iMac computers on Nov. 14. The retail price of the iMac in Korea has been set at 2,240,000 won (US$1,780), higher than its U.S. price of US$1,299, but less expensive than other personal computers with similar features.

    "The price is affordable, but we don't expect a boom like that seen in the U.S. market because of cultural differences in the Korean market," an Elex official said.

    The company said it expects to sell around 1,000 iMacs in the rest of the year.

    Korea's PC market remains depressed due to the recession, and near-term prospects for the iMac appear uncertain.

    Many Windows PC clones have appeared in recent months. TriGem Computer Inc., a major Korean PC maker, is among the makers of such PCs. Emachines, a startup established in the United States as a joint venture of TriGem and its Korean partner, Korea Data Systems, plans to introduce a Windows-based model with similar design features early next year. The PC will be priced below US$1,000, and will be just as powerful as iMac with a floppy disk drive, according to TriGem officials.

    (James Lim, Asia BizTech Correspondent)

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    Updated: Sat Nov 28 00:01:43 1998 PDT