N. Korean leader could be using HTC's Desire: analyst
CNATAIPEI -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un seems to be using a Desire series phone made by Taiwan's HTC Corp., a local analyst said Monday, after South Korean media reported that Kim may prefer the Taiwanese brand to other popular vendors.
February 5, 2013, 12:14 am TWN
The North Korean leader probably obtained his HTC phone from China, where HTC has launched a number of customized devices for carriers, said Andrew Wang, a research manager at the Industrial Economics and Knowledge Center.
Based on the appearance of Kim's HTC phone and the availability of mobile phones in North Korea, the model could be one of HTC's three New Desire series, which were launched in China in April last year, Wang said.
“It is unlikely to be the high-end Butterfly or the entry-level Desire U because the two models just hit Chinese stores recently. I don't think North Korean dealers would have introduced them so quickly,” he told CNA.
The three HTC New Desire phones, which were customized for China's major telecom operators, were priced as low as 1,999 Chinese yuan (US$321) as part of the company's efforts to tap into the emerging mobile market.
In response to the South Korean report, HTC said “we appreciate the support from all HTC fans, and we will continue our efforts in innovation to offer the best experience of mobile life for consumers.”
The Seoul-based Korea Joongang Daily, describing a picture published Jan. 26 by North Korea's official Central News Agency, reported Monday that Kim was in a national security meeting with a black mobile phone next to him that looked like an HTC model.
South Korea's Unification Ministry, in charge of dealing with North Korea, speculated that Kim's phone was the latest HTC model, based on precise analyses of images and data, the newspaper said.
The phone is most likely used to communicate with Kim's family and his cadres in the Workers' Party of Korea, according to the report.
Kim's choice of an HTC phone is mostly likely an attempt to avoid the “additional burdens” that would come with the use of Apple's iPhones or Samsung's Galaxy series, the newspaper said, citing the ministry, without explaining what those burdens were.
The report added that North Koreans are not permitted to access the Internet via mobile phones and are only allowed to use them for voice calls and text messaging.
There were 1.5 million mobile phone users in North Korea as of November last year and the number is forecast to grow at a faster-than-expected pace to 1.7 million in the near term, the report said.
HTC does not have any official stores in North Korea. The company decided to close its South Korea office in July last year to streamline its operations and improve efficiency.