By Kim Yoo-chul
Apple, headquartered in Cupertino, California, has dismissed its Korea country manager Dominique Oh, allegedly over sluggish sales of its products here.
"It is true that Dominique is no longer with us since last week," Apple spokesman Steve Park said by telephone, late Tuesday.
"We acknowledge that there are many speculations surrounding Oh's leaving, but we do not comment on internal matters," Park said.
The contract termination comes amid the deepening global patent war with its biggest client and rival Samsung Electronics. Apple failed to attack the lead of Samsung Electronics in the local smartphone market despite its ambitious launch of i-branded products.
Apple is also being criticized about its passive response to after-sales (AS) service policies, here, and the firm was always the target of many local iPhone users over its stiffer stance that’s not favorable even to loyal i-device users.
``It’s very rare for Apple to fire a senior executive ahead of a key product launch. Korea is the tomb for Apple executives,’’ said an official who is knowledgeable about Apple-related issues, asking not to be identified.
The official said the decision was unilateral. ``Oh wasn’t informed about the termination in advance,’’ he said.
Last year, Apple appointed Oh ― a former vice president of LG Electronics’ smartphone business ― as its country manager.
Before joining Apple, Oh oversaw LG’s Android and Windows Phone 7 product portfolios, as well as establishing relationships with global operators and potential partners.
Against impressive sales of its iPhone 4S, globally, Apple failed to raise its share in the local market because the iPhone 4s doesn’t offer the faster long-term evolution (LTE) mobile network. Korea has Internet literacy of above 95 percent.
``When you look at the entire market size, Korea is truly a graveyard for Apple,’’ said the official.
According to market research firm, Apple’s iOS software took up to a 9.3 percent share in Korea as of the end of June, this year, which is the lowest since Apple introduced its first iPhone, here, in November 2009.
But Google’s Android software upped its share to 89.7 percent during the first six months of this year thanks to stronger sales of Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy line of devices.
SK Telecom and KT ― the nation’s top two mobile carriers and Apple’s authorized local partners to sell its products ― plan to introduce Apple’s iPhone 5 here sometime later this month.