The Korea Herald

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지나쌤

Pantech to return with new budget phone

By 이지윤

Published : Jan. 24, 2016 - 17:25

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Pantech, the nation’s smallest smartphone-maker, which found a new owner while on the verge of bankruptcy last year, is poised to return to the market with a new phone in the summer.

The new phone, the first new model since the Vega Pop-up Note phablet in November 2014, aims to target the fast-growing budget-phone market, the company’s CEO Moon Ji-wook said Friday.

“This is the right timing to enter the budget phone market. We will be betting on phones that big companies such as Samsung and LG would not try,” he said.

“The new phone will be mid-priced even among budget phones on the market.”
 
Pantech logos are seen at the company’s headquarters in Sangam-dong, Seoul. Yonhap Pantech logos are seen at the company’s headquarters in Sangam-dong, Seoul. Yonhap

The company is also expected to tap into overseas markets to secure a turnaround. The first destination is Indonesia, where it plans to ship some 200,000 smartphones in the first half of this year.

The CEO said, however, the company has no plan to operate its own production plant and will outsource phone production to factories in China and Vietnam.

He added that the company was also working on smartwatches and planned to launch its first model this year.

Until the early 2000s, Pantech was a leading player in the nation’s phone market, launching several hit phones under the SKY brand. But the company failed to respond quickly to the smartphone trend.

In 2011, the company posted record sales, but most of the cash was spent on paying off its snowballing debt rather than on research and development efforts for new products.

After years of financial struggles and search for a new owner, the company was acquired by a local consortium, led by local optical manufacturer Optis and telecom device-maker Solid, in July last year. 

In a recent business presentation, the company announced it aimed to elevate sales to 1.5 trillion won ($1.25 billion) by 2018, citing the Internet of Things and wearables as well as smartphones as its key growth businesses.

By Lee Ji-yoon (jylee@heraldcorp.com)