SEOUL, June 23 (Korea Bizwire) – “Life in the 21st century is becoming more and more enervating, especially with endless competition and pressure,” said Moon Ji-wook, president of Pantech, during a very modest press conference for its latest smartphone, the IM-100.
Pantech may be an unfamiliar smartphone brand to overseas consumers, especially compared to Korea’s two smartphone giants, Samsung and LG Electronics. But it was once among the front-runners in Korea’s mobile phone market.
However, in 2005, Pantech purchased mobile phone manufacturer SK Teletech for 300 billion won ($260 million), which was almost equivalent to Pantech’s aggregate market value, and it was all downhill from there. By 2014, Pantech faced bankruptcy with almost $500 million in debt.
After two years of strenuous efforts to revive the company, Pantech has made a humble return with its new IM-100 (pronounced “I’m Back” – 100 is read ‘baek’ in Korean).
“The past Pantech was proud, and too conscious of its competitors. We needed an objective self-reflection. And instead of boasting about our products to consumers, our products needed to be a part of customers’ lives,” said Moon.
“It’s not a product that signals the revival of Pantech. It’s our desperate effort to make the brand again a companion of daily life, and we’ve excluded both the product name and the logos of telecommunications companies on the exterior of the IM-100,” he added.
He also revealed that that he wanted to target the fast-rising single-person households, of which there are now approximately 5 million across Korea. Pantech says it took into consideration the stressful and often lonesome way of life for those living by themselves in creating the new smartphone.
“We blended, with consistency, squares and circles, edges and roundness to come up with a minimalistic and a simple design. We didn’t want to burden customers with fancy looks.”
Moon also emphasized the role of ‘Stone’, which is a smartphone cradle and speaker that comes with the device.
“The Stone is well-harmonized with the IM-100. It will fill up a perhaps lonely room with music, help customers to fall asleep, help them wake up, and urge them to go to work,” he contemplated.
Pantech hopes to sell at least 300,000 units by the end of the year, and instead of TV commercials, it will focus on advertising the product online, and at venues like movie theaters.
“We’re grateful to everyone who has not forgotten about us, and supported us with high interest and affection. And we ask for both your warmest cheers and sharp criticisms, for the future that lies ahead of us,” he added.
By Kevin Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)