Apple Store to open near 'Samsung Town' in Gangnam
By Jie Ye-eun, The Korea Herald - US tech behemoth Apple said Tuesday it will open its fifth retail store in South Korea later this month, expanding its presence in the country, home to its archrival Samsung Electronics.
Named Apple Gangnam, the store will open near the Shinnonhyeon Subway Station in southern Seoul on March 31. The location is less than a kilometer away from three skyscrapers owned by Samsung Group.
The three buildings are home to Samsung’s financial units after Samsung Electronics relocated to an office building in central Seoul in 2016. In spite of the move, the neighboring area is still affectionately called “Samsung Town.”
“Apple Gangnam will be the fifth Apple retail location in South Korea and another place for our brilliant retail teams to connect with even more customers and provide an endless source of inspiration for imagination and creativity,” Apple said in a statement.
To celebrate the opening of Apple Gangnam, Apple unveiled a new storefront barricade design with its new tagline, “Inspiration, always on the move.”
Since the first two openings of the Apple Store in May 2001 in Virginia and California, Apple has expanded the number of retail locations and its geographical coverage over the years, with more than 500 stores in 25 countries around the world.
Apple opened its first Korean store in Seoul's Garosugil in Gangnam in January 2018, followed by the second one in Yeouido in February 2021, and two more in Myeongdong and Jamsil in April and September 2022.
Industry sources say Apple is expected to seek a further increase in the number of its stores in Korea, with Seoul’s Hongdae being cited as the sixth location. The number of Apple Stores in Korea stands at half the number in Japan, where there are five Apple Stores in Tokyo alone.
Apple has struggled to elevate its market share in Korea where almost 80 percent of smartphones are Samsung phones. Sources said Apple is seeking to secure a firmer footing by expanding its offline presence. As part of its efforts, Apple Pay, its mobile payment service, is also expected to make its Korean debut as early as next week.
“Apple had been neglecting the Korean market, but it started making concerted efforts in recent years by gradually opening more retail stores here,” an industry official said on condition of anonymity. “It’s an exceptional circumstance for Apple, however, and the move is interpreted as a way to beef up its presence on the home turf of its archrival (Samsung).”
According to the market tracker Counterpoint Research, Samsung smartphones made up 84 percent of all smartphone sales in Korea as of the third quarter of 2022, while Apple accounted for 13 percent.