updated 11:15 am EDT, Wed May 18, 2011
Apple gets LG smartphone exec for Korea
An industry contact said Wednesday that Apple had snapped up a key LG executive for its Korean division. LG Smartphone Business VP Dominique Oh would now be the general manager for Apple Korea and replace the longstanding Andrew Sedgewick, who had been in the top spot since 2001. The Yonhap tip wasn't completely certain as it hadn't been confirmed by Apple or by Oh.
The move if true would be a significant hit to LG. Oh has been managing the company's Android and Windows Phone device business as well as negotiating deals with carriers. LG has already seen its electronics CEO resign last year over a struggling phone business and could face a similar need to re-acclimatize an executive. The carrier has only just recently scored major US smartphone deals like the G2X at T-Mobile.
For Apple, Oh could significantly improve the company's stance in Korea, especially in mobile. Apart from appealing to the country's preference for local executives, his deeper familiarity with both Korea itself as well as talking to carriers could help maintain or improve relationships with KT and SK Telecom in a market actively hostile to outsiders. LG and Samsung not only have a local advantage that has led to strong sales but which has been used to intimidate carriers that support competing products. When Samsung had no answer to the iPhone, it reportedly took to punishing KT for supporting the iPhone by reducing the amount of marketing and support for the Omnia II line.
The timing would be close for Apple as Samsung has just had a strong Galaxy S II debut and is hoping to repeat the momentum it had behind the original.