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Apple to offer trade-in program for LG smartphone users in S. Korea

This photo taken on Oct. 30, 2020, shows Apple Inc.'s iPhone 12 smartphones displayed at a store in Seoul. (Yonhap)
This photo taken on Oct. 30, 2020, shows Apple Inc.'s iPhone 12 smartphones displayed at a store in Seoul. (Yonhap)
The South Korean unit of Apple Inc. will run a trade-in program to woo LG Electronics Inc.'s smartphone users, industry insiders said Friday, in a move to expand its presence on the home turf of Samsung Electronics Co., the world's largest smartphone vendor.

Apple's smartphone exchange scheme with local mobile carriers will pay the trade-in value of a mobile device and an additional 150,000 won ($135) to those who replace their LG smartphones with iPhones, according to the sources in the telecom industry.

People who have used LG's 4G and 5G smartphones for more than a month will be eligible to apply for the program scheduled to run through Sept. 25. They can exchange their LG smartphones for Apple's iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 mini.

Such a promotion is separate from existing trade-in programs by local mobile carriers that are subscription-based.

This is the first time that Apple has decided to launch a trade-in program for users of other smartphone brands. It will run exclusively in South Korea.

Market watchers said the latest move will help Apple absorb some users of LG smartphones following the South Korean tech giant's decision to exit from the mobile business.

Last month LG announced it will withdraw from the smartphone business by July 31 after years of money-losing performance.

Apple's trade-in scheme also aims to minimize LG phone users' exodus to its archrival Samsung. A recent market report showed 80 percent of LG's V50 ThinQ smartphone users switched to Samsung's Galaxy devices through mobile carriers' trade-in programs.

Apple has been trying to expand its presence in South Korea, where Samsung boasts the lion's share.

According to market researcher Counterpoint Research, Samsung represented 65 percent of the South Korean smartphone market last year, followed by Apple with 21 percent and LG with 13 percent.

To beef up its market share, Apple launched its first 5G smartphone, the iPhone 12, earlier than its usual schedule in South Korea. The US tech titan also opened its second Apple Store in Seoul in February. (Yonhap)