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SK Telecom sees little sales boost from Galaxy S5

SK Telecom failed to see a significant rise in mobile-service subscribers through Samsung Electronics’ new smartphone Galaxy S5 despite pushing for an early roll-out.

As the nation’s largest mobile carrier is due to begin a business suspension on April 5 for doling out excessive handset subsidies, the company reportedly pushed Samsung to move up the release date to March 27 from the initial launch on April 11.

However, the launch of the Galaxy S5 did not seem to positively affect sales. The number of new subscribers stood at 5,833 last Thursday when the new phone hit the market, according to the Korea Telecommunications Operators Association. SK Telecom rather saw a decline in new customers from 6,026 on Wednesday, 6,028 on Tuesday and 17,154 on Monday.

Industry sources attributed the figures to the inadequate supply of Galaxy S5 units and the sluggish telecommunications market.

Samsung is said to have supplied the Galaxy S5 to the three telecoms as part of its pre-marketing since last Tuesday. SK Telecom was provided with around 1,000 handsets, a figure that would not greatly affect sales figures.

Further, the telecommunication market has been faltering in recent months as government regulations on telecom operators become stronger. Now, the three telecom operators, SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus, are on 45-day business suspensions on rotation due to excessive and illegal subsidies.

Meanwhile, the relationship between Samsung and SK Telecom hit a rough patch, as the telecom began selling the Galaxy S5 without the consent of Samsung.

On Wednesday, Samsung Electronics president Shin Jong-kyun denied speculations that the Galaxy S5 would hit the market on Thursday, telling reporters the rumors were not true.

However, as SK Telecom began selling Galaxy S5, a day later, disregarding his remarks, it looked somewhat odd for both of the companies. Samsung stated, “It is regrettable. Samsung’s position on releasing the Galaxy S5 earlier has not changed.”

As SK Telecom released the smartphone earlier, the two other mobile carriers, KT and LG Uplus, also began selling the handsets on the same day.

By Shin Ji-hye (shinjh@heraldcorp.com)
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