iPhone presales: Gone in 7min

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iPhone presales: Gone in 7min

Despite a price tag as much as $100 higher than previous models, the popularity of Apple’s latest iPhone 6s and 6s Plus appears hotter than ever in Seoul.

The country’s three major mobile carriers said on Monday that preorders of the entire first batch of the two mega-popular phones, with guaranteed shipping on Oct. 23, ran out in less than 10 minutes after they were made available on the carriers’ respective websites at 9 a.m. on Monday.

Top player SK Telecom presold the latest iPhones in two groups, using the date customers are guaranteed to receive the phone and launch a subscription - on Oct. 23 and on Oct. 24.

The first batch sold out in seven minutes and the second in half an hour, according to an SK spokesman. He refused to disclose the number of phones the company released on preorders.

The seven-minute record is the fastest for any iPhone model, given iPhone 6’s first preorder in October last year was done in nine minutes and its predecessor 5s, in 10 minutes in October 2013.

Preorders for the release of a third batch will last until 6 p.m. on Oct. 22, while the phones will be delivered on Oct. 26 or later. In-store sales are scheduled to start on Oct. 23.

KT, the second-largest carrier, said it presold its entire supply of 50,000 iPhone 6s and 6s Plus in 10 minutes.

“Given the preorders for iPhone 6, the preceding model, wrapped up in 30 minutes, the newest Apple phones are being better received,” said a KT spokesman.

KT, which was the first among the three major mobile services to bring the iPhone to Korea in 2009, reserved 10,000 iPhone 6s for preorders from existing subscribers via text message on a first-come, first-served basis. KT said the phones sold out in just two seconds. Within a minute, all models with 128 gigabytes of storage were sold out, while for models with 64 gigabytes of storage, only the rose-gold model was sold out.

LG U+, the smallest player of the three, said it presold 1,000 iPhone 6s and 6s Plus in five minutes.

Of the four different colors - silver, gold, space grey and rose gold - the rose gold turned out to be the most preferred model.

Although the preorders were better than anticipated, SK Telecom took a cautious approach to actual sales.

It said that traditionally, one-fifth of those who place preorders actually purchase the phones, and the key would lie on the size of subsidies the nation’s telecom authority would allow carriers to provide.

A 4.7-inch iPhone 6s with the smallest storage space of 16 gigabytes will be sold for 920,000 won ($800), compared to $649 in the United States. The bigger 5.5-inch iPhone 6s Plus with 128 gigabytes of storage, the largest available, will cost 1.34 million won, versus $949 in the United States.

Apple’s challenge in Samsung’s home ground is formidable. When Apple broke its previous principle of making small phones to launch the iPhone 6 Plus model with a display size as large as the Galaxy Note’s 5.5-inch screen last September, a number of Samsung users migrated to Apple.

According to Counterpoint Technology Market Research, Apple’s iPhones accounted for 14 percent of the Korean smartphone market by sales in July, about three times bigger than a year earlier.

Samsung made up 59 percent, a similar level to a year before, largely by capturing sales from the ailing LG Electronics and Pantech.

BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]
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