By Kang Seung-woo
Samsung Electronics is struggling to fully meet the higher-than-expected demand for the Galaxy S8, as activation of the flagship smartphone has slowed, according to industry sources, Thursday.
The latest high-end phone, unveiled last month, received more than 1 million preorders from April 7 to 17 and it started activating preordered handsets on Tuesday ahead of the official Friday launch date in the United States and Canada as well as Korea.
On the first day of its preliminary release, Tuesday, 260,000 Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus smartphones were sold, setting a new daily sales record. The previous record was 160,000 by the Galaxy Note 7 last year.
According to the mobile communication industry, however, 63,400 Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus smartphones were activated, Wednesday, by the nation's three cellular carriers.
In addition, the number of those who changed their mobile operators to buy the new Samsung phone was 22,907. Such a practice is common here as local telecom companies offer a certain amount of kickbacks to new customers on the condition of a two- or three-year agreement.
"The activation is being delayed as some of the preorder customers did not receive their top-of-the-line 6GB RAM Galaxy S8 Plus smartphones with 128GB of memory," an official from a local mobile carrier said. Samsung only offers the S8 Plus model to consumers in Korea and China and initial stock of the special model sold out only five days after the preorders started.
On Tuesday, 210,900 units were sold, while 46,380 people also purchased the premium smartphone by switching their mobile operators -- the highest number since the implementation of the law to restrict phone subsidies in October 2014.
SK Telecom and KT saw net increases of 173 and 35 in terms of new subscribers, respectively, while LG Uplus lost 208 customers.
Late last month, Koh Dong-jin, the president of Samsung's mobile communications business, said his company will focus on meeting the initial demand for the S8.
"We will start to sell products with sufficient stock," Koh said, adding that there will be no concerns over supply shortages.
The new Samsung phone features a bezel-less, edge-to-edge curved display with a unique 18.5:9 aspect ratio. Its homegrown virtual assistant Bixby is also installed, while the device offers three types of biometric authentication --fingerprint, iris and facial recognition.