Samsung's Galaxy S3 hit Phnom Penh markets on Friday and smartphone users were quick to pick up the device – weeks before the product’s expected official launch.
The appearance of the phone – which vendors were pitching yesterday for US$750 without warranties – was no surprise to industry insiders.
Technology devices released elsewhere in the region are often brought into Cambodia before companies market warrant-guaranteed devices.
The Korean technology company will officially launch the smartphone in Cambodia sometime this month, although director of Samsung in Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos Lee Gwi-han declined yesterday to give an exact date.
When Samsung launches the Galaxy S3 in the Kingdom, authorised device dealers will first have to stomp out non-warranty competition, said Houv Boram, marketing manager at LCH mobile Co Ltd, an authorised Cambodian Samsung dealer.
“We still have to deal with this competition. If they bring in a lot of phones early, it can be a problem for us,” he said. “We look at their price and then put our price lower until they cannot compete.”
The launch of the Galaxy S2 in Cambodia faced similar challenges.
Houv Boram said his company sold the warranted device at prices below dealers who brought the product from Vietnam and Hong Kong.
When the unofficial phones dried up, LCH mobile raised prices, he said.
At phone markets near the capital’s Central Market yesterday, shops priced the device between $730 and $770. Shop owners said the phone first went on sale Friday.
“It’s the newest. Of course it’s very popular,” one vendor, who declined to be named, said from behind the counter of her shop near Central Market.
She said her company had imported the phones from Hong Kong and Vietnam.
While some shops held the S3 in display cases at their front entrances, others said they needed to call the owner if customers wanted to look at the new model.
Hok Ly Meng at VIP Mobile Phone Shop, also in the same area, said he would not market non-warranted products, adding that phone applications and services could function differently from those bought on a warranty.
He said he would wait for the official launch.
“When the product is available in one place, it will spread out very fast,” Hor Hab, business development manager at G Gear, an LG distributor in Cambodia, said in an email yesterday, adding that the phones that were popping up here had most likely come from Hong Kong and Vietnam.
“This mostly happens for Cambodia because the product normally launches [here] after other countries like the US and the EU, or some modern Asian nations.”
LG’s Prada and Optimus models faced similar problems in the Kingdom before official launches, he added, although Khmer language functions on the phones prevented a large quantity of LG models pouring in from Vietnam.
There are no legal issues with Samsung phones that jumped the gun on the launch date, however, Houv Boram said. As long as the Galaxy S3s aren’t advertised with warranties, Samsung cannot take legal action against vendors.
Customers, of course, would be without warranties, he said.
“We always recommend buyers wait for the official launch but some people want to be the first to get it.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Don Weinland at [email protected]