Earlier this year, Korean electronics giant LG threw in the towel on making its own Android smartphones, and now it looks like the company may be moving forward with a unique new partnership with Apple to sell the iPhone in its large collection of South Korean retail stores. .
Although Apple opened its first store in South Korea over three years ago, it has only added one more retail store since that time, and both stores are located in Seoul, the country’s capital.
By comparison, LG operates more than 400 “LG Best Shops” across the country, selling a range of other products ranging from its very popular OLED TVs to wireless speakers and even household appliances. The removal of LG’s smartphones leaves a big gap in its product offering, and it may be hoping to fill that by giving Apple the right instead of another Android handset maker.
According to Business Korea, LG Electronics and Apple are currently in negotiations to bring not only the iPhone but also the iPad and Apple Watch to the company’s retail stores.
The Apple products would fill the space that was vacated with LG’s fairly extensive range of smartphones, which never moved off the shelves as fast as the Korean tech giant would have wanted. The company also seeks to avoid firing salespeople by doing so by using the same staff that previously sold LG mobile phones to sell Apple products instead.
According to sources, the event will see Apple products sold in a separate “shop-in-a-shop” area of the store, similar to how Apple products are presented at retailers like Best Buy.
In the past, Apple has hired employees directly to work in at least some of its “Brand Stores” at various retailers, and there is some debate right now about whether Apple would also take this approach by direct delivery of staff, or whether it would simply train LGs Best Shop employees to sell its products.
If the two companies can reach an agreement, the partnership may be ready to go later this summer when LG has finished pulling itself completely out of the smartphone business.
Analysts suggest it is unlikely to happen before the end of July, as LG has not yet finished selling smartphones in its stores. Not only is Apple likely to accept the idea that LG is selling the iPhone along with its own discontinued smartphones, but LG is also likely not interested in the idea, as selling the iPhone would hamper its ability to sell its existing stock.
However, the deal is far from a complete deal, and an LG Electronics official told Business Korea that “nothing has been decided yet” and the two companies are “exploring all possibilities.”
According to sources, one of the biggest points right now is whether LG will also sell Mac products in its stores. Apple appears to have an all-or-nothing deal from the South Korean retailer, but as LG is still selling its own laptop, the LG Gram, it is currently refusing to sell any Mac products as part of the deal. It also does not want to provide repair and maintenance services for Mac computers, which it must do if it chooses to sell Apple computers in its stores.
This last point sounds like it can not be negotiated from LG’s perspective, which means that if the two companies come to an agreement, Apple will have to content itself with only having its mobile devices shown in LG Best Shops.
This is actually just the latest example of a nicer relationship that seems to be developing between Apple and the South Korean electronics giant. While by far the only company to embrace Apple’s technologies, LG has added AirPlay 2 and HomeKit to a fairly comprehensive range of its smart TVs. Apple has also been selling LG UltraFine 5K monitors in its own stores for the past many years after the lapse of its own Thunderbolt and Cinema Displays.
More interestingly, recent rumors have suggested that LG Electronics may be collaborating with Magna to build the Apple Car, and while this is essentially a arms-length company of the massive South Korean technology conglomerate, it is still a significant development in the relationship between Apple and LG.