A woman looks at her smartphone in front of LG Group’s logo in Yeouido. (Yonhap)
iPhones could be made available for purchase at LG Best Shops across South Korea as early as next month, after LG Electronics cleared a key hurdle – opposition from small phone distributors.
The Korea Commission for Corporate Partnership, a private consensus-based body promoting shared growth between big and small businesses, said Wednesday that LG Electronics has reached a new agreement with the Korea Mobile Distribution Association, representing the phone distributors, regarding its iPhone sales plan.
Local phone distributors had earlier opposed the idea, claiming it would be a violation of a pact LG signed with the commission in 2018.
In the agreement, LG pledged to strive for co-prosperity with small players and only sell its own smartphones at its brand stores. Samsung Electronics has also signed the pact and has since adhered to the rule.
Things changed for LG, however, in April, when the home appliance giant decided to terminate the smartphone manufacturing business. While preparing for the phone market exit, the company sought new ties with Apple, the US firm behind iPhones.
Under the new agreement made between LG and the phone distributors’ association Wednesday, LG can sell iPhones at its brand stores but will discuss with small distributors first before it decides to expand the number of stores offering Apple products.
Less than half of the 400 existing LG Best Shop stores will carry iPhones, according to the electronics maker. iMac, Mac Pro and Apple’s desktop computers will not be sold at LG‘s stores.
LG also agreed to develop various programs to promote mutual growth with small distributors.
The shared growth commission said it will thoroughly check whether the two parties honor their commitments.
“Under the new agreement, we will make efforts to promote sound growth of the local mobile device market and enhance customer satisfaction,” said Kim Jong-yong, CEO of Hi-plaza.
“We will work on bringing integrity to the domestic mobile device market through cooperation with large companies,” said Lee Yong-geul, the president of KMDA.