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Korean mobile manufacturer, Pantech, is looking to take on the established vendors in the Middle East, having opened a regional base in Dubai and linked up with reseller, the Al Yousef Group. CommsMEA asks Shogun Yang, managing director of Pantech’s Dubai branch, about its plans to break into the market.

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By  Richard Agnew Published  January 5, 2004

|~|pantech1.gif|~|Shogun Yang, managing director, Pantech (left)|~|Korean mobile manufacturer, Pantech, is looking to take on the established vendors in the Middle East, having opened a regional base in Dubai and linked up with reseller, the al Yousef Group. CommsMEA asks Shogun Yang, managing director of Pantech’s Dubai branch, about its plans to break into the market.

CMEA: why have you decided to enter the middle east, where competition among handset manufacturers is already very intense?

Shogun Yang: Dubai is a very well known free trade zone, covering neighbouring countries, which are difficult to market to directly. Also, Dubai’s government provides a comfortable business atmosphere for investors. There is tough competition but once we have found that we can survive in Dubai, we hope that we can have success across the whole Middle East. Dubai also has very good connections into the European market and the CIS, India, Pakistan, Iran and North Africa. It will also be our hub for the whole Middle East.

CMEA: what levels of the market will you aim at in the UAE?

SY: We will only be targeting high-tier customers to start off with. Pantech is an unknown brand so if we launch in the low-tier and mid-tier [spaces], our brand reputation could become very low. Although Pantech has ten models in all, we have selected only two models [with] which to enter the market, and these are high-tier.

CMEA: which are they, what features do they have and what price are they?

SY: We will launch the G300 and the G500. The G300 will be US$270 and the G500 will be US$380. They are camera phones and their strong point is that both have 260k colour resolution, which is a first in the Middle East. Both models have MMS, EMS, SMS, WAP, GPRS and Arabic [compatibility].

CMEA: What’s your distribution strategy?

SY: We've signed with Al Yousef Electronics. We've looked at what Nokia is doing. Nokia appointed Emirates Computers as its distributors and by now has seven or eight distributors in Dubai. But they have a longer history [in the region] than us so for the time being we will only be working with Al Yousef.

CMEA: how long will the trial period be before you decide whether to launch other phones?

SY: We want to launch other models after three months.

CMEA: with etisalat having recently launched its 3G network in the UAE, how far is pantech from developing a UMTS-enabled handset?

SY: We are finishing 3G phones but in the Middle East, we are waiting for [operators'] readiness. It's not easy to fix our plan as [you have to] launch phones with fixed features and specifications. We shouldn't hurry, because new [services] come in. Timing is very important.

CMEA: What are you market share targets?

SY: We are aiming to obtain a minimum of 5% market share in the UAE by the end of 2004.

CMEA: What are your plans to expand further internationally?

SY: We currently have branch offices in China, Russia, the US, Australia, Latin America and India, as well as this one in the UAE. We are going to establish a European branch office in Frankfurt very soon.

We are in the early stages, but our preparations are happening very fast. We need to re-invest our profit in advertising and R&D. By the middle of 2004, Pantech will be recognised as one of the major brands in the UAE. We are already one of the top ten listed mobile phone developers in the world.||**||

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