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iPod fails to impress South Koreans

Apple's MP3 market share 'under two per cent'

The iPod may dominate the MP3 player market in almost every country in the world, but one nation is holding out against Apple's onslaught.

Yes, South Korea, home of a number of contenders to the iPod's title, favours local product over all that 'designed in California' stuff.

According to market watcher GfK's Korean subsidiary, Apple's share of the South Korean MP3 player market is a mere 1.8 per cent - enough to put it in 13th place.

That compares to iRiver's market-leading 35 per cent share, Samsung's 14 per cent share and Cowon's 13 per cent, according to the Asia Pulse newswire. Between Cowon and Apple sit the likes of Creative and Sony, and lesser local players.

The South Korean market was worth around KRW174.5bn ($xx) in H1 2005, down 16.9 per cent on the same period last year, GfK said.

GfK differs from many other market analysts in that it tracks cross-counter sales rather than vendors' shipments, so the numbers represent a more accurate picture of consumers' buying habits.

The company's numbers are unsurprising given the differences between local music players and Apple's. It's generally held that the Mac maker's minimalist approach to design and, arguably, functionality plays better with Western audiences than South Korean firms' preference for machines crammed with features and sporting a mass of controls and coloured lights. The devices are that way because that's what works well for South Korean buyers, confirmed by GfK's figures.

Last week, Apple claimed the iPod accounts for 36 per cent of the Japanese MP3 player market, ahead of Sony (22 per cent), and Creative, iRiver and Rio combined (27 per cent). But it's clearly facing a harder fight here than, say, the US, where it has 74 per cent of the market, according to June figures from market watcher NPD. ®

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