Galaxy S5 off to good start in South Korea, despite carrier sales ban

April 2, 2014
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The Galaxy S5 is selling well in South Korea, the only market in the world where it’s currently available. That’s despite a partial sales ban affecting local carriers, giving Samsung reasons to be optimistic for the performance of this key device.

Earlier this year, the local communications watchdog slapped South Korean carriers with a 45-day sales interdiction, following the carriers’ repeated violation of rules banning them from offering phone subsidies higher than $250.

Because the sales ban would have prevented it from offering the Galaxy S5 on April 11 (when the release was initially scheduled), SK Telecom, the largest of Korea’s big three carriers,  released the device last week, ostensibly without Samsung’s consent. Korea Telecom and LG Uplus followed SK Telecom’s lead and released the phone soon after, even if their ongoing sales interdiction only allows them to sell it to customers who need replacement devices.

The Galaxy S5 is only fully available at one carrier, while the other two can sell just limited quantities

In other words, the Galaxy S5 is only fully available at one carrier, while the other two can sell just limited quantities. Despite this limitation, the device has been selling on average in 7,000 units every day, a bit below the 8,000 performance of the Galaxy S4 at launch, but still well given the circumstances. These are no-subsidy sales and the S5 is only slightly cheaper than the Galaxy S4, at $820, compared to $850 last year.

South Korea is a relatively small market that Samsung dominates, but the surprisingly robust sales so far suggest that consumers love the device. If customers from the rest of the world feel the same, Samsung might have reasons to celebrate again, after sales of the Galaxy S4 last year were a bit disappointing. But the real test is on April 11, when the Galaxy S5 is scheduled to go on sale in over 150 countries.

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