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THE INVESTOR

Mobile & Internet

Pantech halts smartphone business to focus on IoT

  • PUBLISHED :May 12, 2017 - 10:53
  • UPDATED :May 12, 2017 - 17:16
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[THE INVESTOR] South Korea’s once-mobile phone legend Pantech decided to temporarily halt its smartphone business and focus on Internet of Things and other new businesses, according to industry sources on May 12.
  
An official at Pantech told the local media that the company will prioritize other businesses, likely to be IoT, rather than focus on the struggling smartphone business.

“It is time to shift to the select and concentrated strategy,” the official said. “Patench has a competitive edge in the IoT business, it has been operating for a long time.” 

The official said Pantech is not totally scrapping the smartphone business, instead it is grinding to a halt until some opportunities arise. 

“There is no plan on new products, but the business will be maintained for after sales services for customers,” he said. 

Pantech used to be a leader in the mobile phone market until early 2000s with its signature SKY brand. 

After hitting its peak with the hit SKY handsets more than a decade ago, the phone manufacturer went through two periods of debt workout programs in 2007 and 2014. 

It had tried to restore its fame with Vega Racer smartphones in 2011, but the series failed. The company, then, filed for bankruptcy in August 2014. It was acquired by a consortium led by optical disc firm Optis and telecom equipment provider Solid in July 2015. 

The new Pantech under then-CEO Moon Ji-uk returned to the market with budget smartphone named “IM-100” in June 2016, but again failed to appeal to consumers. Rather, it incurred a 59.6 billion loss to the company last year. 

Moon stepped down from the post early this year for personal reasons. Currenlty, former chief Chung Joon is back in office to fill in.

Pantench is planning to have a round of layoffs in the near future, according to the official. If conducted, the company is estimated to have fewer than 100 employees. 

Since being acquired by the consortium in 2015, job cuts continued at Patch from about 500 employees to 120 recently.

“It seems hard for Patench to revive the smartphone business, considering the workforce and financial problems,” said an industry insider who refused to be named.  

By Song Su-hyun/The Korea Herald (song@heraldcorp.com)
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