Samsung gets help as phone sales take a hit

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Samsung gets help as phone sales take a hit

Samsung Electronics says the fast-spreading coronavirus may dampen sales of its newest smartphone Galaxy S20 series and on Tuesday asked three local mobile carriers to extend the preorder period in a bid to boost sales.

The three providers - SK Telecom, KT and LG U+ - agreed Wednesday to extend the preorder period one week. It will now end March 3.

In its initial request, the tech giant noted that the ongoing virus outbreak will likely turn users away from trying and buying the high-end models.

“There are online malls selling the Galaxy S20, but many consumers still prefer to go to the retail site to experience the phone,” a Samsung Electronics spokesman said.

The official release date of the latest models S20, S20+ and S20 Ultra is set for March 6. The launch coincided with plummeting consumer confidence due to the concerns over the economic impact of the coronavirus.

An index that measures monthly consumer confidence in February registered its third-largest decline since the Bank of Korea began conducting the surveys in 2008, according to figures released Monday.

Still, Samsung’s request is particularly noteworthy, given that the major mobile carriers previously agreed to restrict the preorder period to one week through Feb. 26.

The providers’ move was intended to reduce the cases of unfair subsidies to lure more subscribers, a practice that has come under regulatory scrutiny.

Samsung’s virus-related troubles come during the same week that the tech giant admitted to accidentally publishing the personal information of 150 of its mobile users on its British website. User information including names, telephone numbers, postal and email addresses and previous orders were inadvertently published, Reuters reported Wednesday. The company said it has corrected the problem.

BY PARK EUN-JEE [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]

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