SEOUL, KOREA --- CEO of Pantech, Mr. Park Byeong-yeop has set an ambitious goal of KRW 4 trillion in sales for 2012.
To attain the target, Pantech plans to sell more than 13 million smartphones next year and expand its global markets for sales to Europe and two or three other regions, in addition to the U.S. and Japan where it has been making a soft landing, Mr. Park said.
Pantech, which succeeded in building its second position in the Korean smartphone market in 2010, is striving to become one of the major powerhouses of intelligent mobile device (IMD) by increasing its supply of a variety of mobile devices, including tablet PCs, not to mention smartphones.
"By doing so, we plan to attain the sales target of KRW 10 trillion in 2015, becoming a strong and sustainable powerhouse in IMD," said Mr. Park.
Over the past 10 years, Pantech has spent about KRW 2 trillion for research and development projects, securing 13,000 cases of intellectual property rights, including 3,500 patents rights, at home and abroad.
Although the current number of researchers at Pantech is 2,000, which is 60 percent of its total executives and employees, it equals to one-tenth of those of its global competitors. Pantech has been producing new mobile devices suited to emerging trends thanks to effective operations of its research center, Mr. Park said.
In terms of quality, Pantech has been ranked first for five consecutive periods(20 months) on AT&T Supplier Performance Review, demonstrating its top-class product quality.
"Thanks to its active R&D investment and its 20-year-long accumulated know-how, Pantech could possess the world's best quality of IT and marketing ability," said Mr. Park.
Although Pantech has been actively reforming its business strategy, it has kept the rule of investing about 10 percent of annual sales to R&D.
For the first time in Korea, Pantech introduced Android OS smartphones. It has also showed off the world's first LTE data card, denoting its quality for innovative products.
History of Pantech
Pantech, which was established in 1991 with just six employees, has now grown up to a global company with some 3,500 employees and KRW 3.1 trillion in annual sales.
In 1992, it started its business by producing and selling beepers. It was 1997 when Pantech pushed for innovation under the prediction that mobile phones will emerge as a new growth industry of future mobile communication.
Even though the financial crisis swept Korea and the rest of the world in late 1997, not only did Pantech continued its R&D investments, but also began developing GSM mobile phones, taking an aggressive stance to expand its global market share.
In 2001, it took over Hyundai Curitel with sales of KRW 1 trillion and 650 researchers to further grow its business.
After successfully completing the construction of infrastructure for internal growth and global brand projects, Pantech launched a domestic brand marketing in 2002.
In 2005, it also took over the premium mobile phone brand, SKY, expanding its sales to KRW 3 trillion and the number of its employees to 4,500.
Pantech became the first domestic mobile phone maker to advance into the Japanese market in 2005 and the first foreign company to put its name on the list of companies to sell over a million units in Japan.
Over the past 15 years since its establishment, it has enjoyed an annual average growth of 56 percent and its growth of annual sales from KRW 1 trillion in 2001 to KRW 2 trillion in 2003, and further to KRW 3 trillion in 2005.
Affected by the 2006 worldwide recession in the mobile phone market, Pantech entered into a voluntary debt workout program for restructuring, under the consent of its creditors.
Since the restructuring, Pantech has achieved a surplus for 17th consecutive quarters during the third quarter of 2007 to the third quarter of 2011, enjoying aggregated sales of KRW 8.3 trillion, operational profits of KRW 562.6 billion, and the operational profit rate of 6.7 percent. Consequently, Pantech has achieved management normalization at a rapid pace, Mr. Park said.
Business results in 2011
In 2011, Pantech sold more than 3 million smartphones at home, which was an increase of 200 percent from those of the previous year. Pantech is regarded as the IMD company armed with advanced technology, and know-how on Android OS.
Pantech supplied only premium phones in the domestic market, enhancing its status of its "SKY" brand. In particular, it produced "Vega Racer", the first to be equipped with Qualcomm 1.5GHz dual core processor in June 2011.
In the latter half of 2011, Pantech, which secured its position as no. 2 in the smartphone market by effectively coping with the paradigm change of the mobile industry, introduced the first LTE smartphones in October in Korea.
Following its sale of Android smartphones to the Japanese market in 2010, Pantech introduced its smartphones to the North American market in 2011. It began by supplying Android phone "Crossover" to North America through AT&T in June, while introducing its LTE smartphone "Brakeout" through America's biggest carrier Verizon, proving its advanced technology prowess.
In North America and Japan, Pantech is gaining high popularity among customers with the introduction of "PT002" equipped with waterproof function, and tailor-made smartphones, as well as the LTE smartphone.
In 2012, Pantech is preparing for introducing tablet PCs and additional LTE smartphones to solidify its status as a global smart player, Mr. Park said.