SEOUL, March 10 Samsung Electronics Co's
Galaxy S5 smartphone could get off to a slow start
in South Korea as the flagship's launch next month will coincide
with a 45-day ban on local carriers selling phones, analysts
Samsung plans to start global sales of the S5 on April 11,
with South Korea usually among the first countries to get a
taste of the world's biggest smartphone maker's marquee
But the communications regulator on Friday banned SK Telecom
Co Ltd, KT Corp and LG UPlus Corp
from signing up customers or replacing phones for
dates ranging from March 13 to May 19.
The carriers, fighting for more share of a market where 7
out of 10 people already have smartphones, had broken
regulations by subsidising more than 270,000 won ($250) the cost
"The Korean market accounts for a relatively small portion
of Samsung's overall smartphone sales, but given that they need
to maximize sales in the first three months of the launch, the
operation suspension of mobile carriers could hit initial S5
sales," said IM Investment & Securities analyst Lee Min-hee.
The ban, as well as a lack of sweeping hardware
improvements, may see S5 sales in the first three months falling
short of the 20 million S4s sold within three months of the
predecessor's launch, Lee said.
To bump up S5 sales, Samsung on Monday announced $600 worth
of pre-paid and discounted subscriptions for services such as
LinkedIn Corp's professional social network, Dropbox
sharing and PayPal payment.
The launch will be two weeks earlier than that of the S4
because sales of the predecessor have been weaker than analyst
estimates. S4 sales pulled down overall earnings in
October-December when the smartphone lost market share to Apple
Inc's iPhone 5S in the United States and Japan.
A spokeswoman for Samsung on Monday said the company has no
comment on the impact of carriers' sales ban as it has not
decided when it will start selling the S5 in South Korea.
The country's biggest carrier by subscribers SK Telecom has
been banned from signing up and selling phones to new customers,
and upgrading phones where service contracts are less than two
years old, from April 5 to May 19.
Second-ranked KT has been banned from March 13 to April 26,
and third-placed LG UPlus has been banned from March 13 to April
4 and from April 27 to May 18.
($1 = 1060.6500 Korean Won)
(Reporting by Miyoung Kim; Editing by Christopher Cushing)