The Korean MP3 player market

The Korean market is very different to the rest of the world.
Koreans tend to buy Korean products. This is OK because there are a lot of good Korean products such as cars (Hyundai), ships (Hyundai), memory chips (Hyundai), consumer electronics (LG, Samsung) and MP3 players (iAudio, iRiver)
Just don’t compare the price you pay for the same product in Korea where I live to what you pay in the US. A lot of the time it is cheaper to buy in the US.

In terms of MP3 players and phones the Korean public love it when a product is small and has a ton of features, even if usabily sufferes in the process.

From the DAPreview of the Cowon iAudio X5.

It does not support any kind of ID3-tag database. Literally every player on the market, in the US at least, has this as a basic feature. An iD3-tag database is an index of music loaded on the player, sorted into lists of Artist, Albums, Tracks, Genres, Composers, etc. and built from the user-definable bits tagged on to the end of each track (the iD3 tags).

To me this is an absolutely essential feature. All my music is organized by ID3 tags
I have an Apple iPod mini. If I want to listen to my favorite Japanese movie on my iPod I simply create a playlist where the music genre = JPOP and the rating (out of 5) is 3 or more.
Based on my ID3 tags it will automatically fill the playlist with songs matching that criteria. Very simple and flexible.

Their taste in design is different as reflected in the article below:

iPod fails to impress South Koreans
By Tony Smith 11 Aug 2005 12:00

The iPod may dominate the MP3 player market in almost every country in the world, but one nation is holding out against Apple’s onslaught.

Yes, South Korea, home of a number of contenders to the iPod’s title, favours local product over all that ‘designed in California’ stuff.

According to market watcher GfK’s Korean subsidiary, Apple’s share of the South Korean MP3 player market is a mere 1.8 per cent – enough to put it in 13th place.

That compares to iRiver’s market-leading 35 per cent share, Samsung’s 14 per cent share and Cowon’s 13 per cent, according to the Asia Pulse newswire. Between Cowon and Apple sit the likes of Creative and Sony, and lesser local players.

The South Korean market was worth around KRW174.5bn ($xx) in H1 2005, down 16.9 per cent on the same period last year, GfK said.

GfK differs from many other market analysts in that it tracks cross-counter sales rather than vendors’ shipments, so the numbers represent a more accurate picture of consumers’ buying habits.

The company’s numbers are unsurprising given the differences between local music players and Apple’s. It’s generally held that the Mac maker’s minimalist approach to design and, arguably, functionality plays better with Western audiences than South Korean firms’ preference for machines crammed with features and sporting a mass of controls and coloured lights. The devices are that way because that’s what works well for South Korean buyers, confirmed by GfK’s figures.

Last week, Apple claimed the iPod accounts for 36 per cent of the Japanese MP3 player market, ahead of Sony (22 per cent), and Creative, iRiver and Rio combined (27 per cent). But it’s clearly facing a harder fight here than, say, the US, where it has 74 per cent of the market, according to June figures from market watcher NPD. ?ǬÆ

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