(Nikkei BP Group)
(No.1 High Tech News Site in Japanese)
| Korea's Personal Computer Industry Braces for Long Slump
July 27, 1998 (SEOUL) -- Korea's personal computer makers are passing
through a severe recession, and the upcoming release of the Korean version
of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 98 operating system is unlikely to spark
demand for new PCs.
|Industry data shows that domestic PC sales in the first half fell 39
percent to some 580,000 units, compared to 950,000 units sold in the
same period a year ago.
If the trend continues, it is unlikely that this year's sales target
of 1.5 million PCs will be met. PC makers have little hope of a boost
in sales, despite the release of the latest version of Microsoft's Windows
Microsoft said it will launch sales of the Korean Windows 98 on Aug.
11 with the same prices as in the U.S. applying to its standard and
Korean PC manufacturers said they think that the market response to Windows
98 won't be as strong as the boom when the Windows 95 operating system
was introduced, because the new product offers no big improvements.
Samsung Electronics Co., the largest PC maker in Korea, said it sold
an estimated 220,000 units in the January-June period, down 33 percent
from a year earlier. TriGem Computer Ltd. sold 134,000 units, down 7
percent, followed by Daewoo Telecom Ltd. with sales of 59,700 units,
down 9 percent.
LG IBM PC Co. saw its first-half sales fall some 20 percent to 58,000
units. Other smaller manufacturers reported sales drops of up to 40
The prospect of a deepening slump has sent Korean PC makers scrambling
to introduce new marketing tactics. TriGem, for example, attributes
its relatively strong performance in the first half to its "Change Up"
program, under which it guarantees the free replacement of its computers'
motherboards and central processing units two years after the initial
Other promotional efforts include offering free options and enhancing
low-end and low-price models to cope with the change in buying patterns
under the new economic realities.
Previously, the main sales focus was on high-end and high-price products
as well as relatively short life-span models with various operating
features. However, manufacturers are now employing a two-tier approach.
While offering expensive machines for the high end of the market, the
industry is now producing a range of regular-quality, cheaper products
for many consumers with less buying power.
The notebook segment, which accounts for about 10 percent of the Korean
PC market, is relatively immune to Korea's recession and its crippling
impact on the industry. Notebook makers have seen only slight falls
in sales or even increases from a year ago. Samsung Electronics, for
example, hopes to attain a 50 percent domestic market share in the notebook
segment by selling 95,000 units this year, which would be down slightly
from last year.
In the desktop arena, some manufacturers also began introducing flat-panel
displays offering clearer and undistorted images. Samsung and LG are
both leaders in this area.
Korea's PC Market at a Glance
According to the Korea Electronic Industry Association, the number of
PCs in use in the country reached 6.93 million at the end of 1997, up
2.9 percent from a year earlier. There were 16 PCs for every 100 households
in 1997, up slightly from 1996.
(James Lim, Asia BizTech Correspondent)