LG U+ works with partners to launch a kid-safe phone in South Korea

In South Korea, mobile device sales are flattening, yet demand for kids’ smartphones remains strong. LG U+, one of the country’s top three telecommunication companies, wanted to build business with a new, unique product that could drive sales and boost loyalty of existing customers. Marketing kids’ phones in South Korea, however, requires stringent privacy and security protections.
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About the company
  • Industry: Telecommunications
  • Company size: Large
  • Location: South Korea

LG Uplus Corp is a prominent South Korean telecommunications provider owned by LG Corporation, Korea's fourth largest conglomerate and parent company of LG Electronics.

Kiwi Plus specializes in selling smart devices for children, with strengths in both software development and device sourcing. It is a subsidiary of Kakao Corporation, South Korea's largest mobile messaging app operator.

Knox solutions used
Knox Configure

Launching a premium children’s phone to expand share

In South Korea, telecommunications firms face flat demand in a saturated smartphone market. While smartphone growth is declining globally, the situation is more pronounced in South Korea where 95 percent of adults already own smartphones.

LG U+, one of the country’s major telecom operators, wanted to increase market share with new offerings. The company wanted to capitalize on an appetite for specialty phones aimed at distinct audiences, such as kids. Capturing these new customers is also good for long-term growth, since happy kid customers tend to grow into future adult customers.

Existing smartphone options for kids, however, were lackluster. Typically custom-ordered from low-cost OEMs, these phones offer limited features. Cameras tend to be low-resolution, there are no web browsing capabilities, and devices don’t support Google Play. A competitive new phone aimed at kids would need to look slick and offer capabilities comparable to top brand-name phones.

There was an additional requirement for this market: safety. Kids crave devices so they can communicate with friends and have fun, while parents appreciate the ability to stay in touch with their kids and provide opportunities for online learning. These days, parents worry about exposing their kids to inappropriate or dangerous content, addictive games, fraud, and online predators. There are even legal requirements related to underage phone usage in South Korea.

Launching a kids’ phone had sales potential, but LG U+ knew that requirements were tricky and the right execution was critical. Additionally, adding a phone typically would require LG U+ to manage inventory and associated risks—activities that the company did not want to undertake.


Systems integrator uses Knox Configure to deliver customized phones

Kiwi Plus, a local systems integrator with experience customizing OEM phones for the youth market, joined forces with LG U+ to support the launch. The partnership was key to an innovative go-to-market strategy that simplified the overall LG U+ effort to create a kids-safe phone.

Kiwi Plus opted to use Knox Configure and its remote configuration capabilities to tailor the content and user interface of high-quality Samsung phones. Kiwi Plus would customize the phones to feature the popular Kakao Kids characters and add age-appropriate content and games.

The ease with which LG U+ could deliver a custom phone was the biggest reason to select the Samsung solution. Kiwi Plus simply uses the Knox Configure cloud-based console to upload the apps and design the user experience for thousands of devices without opening the boxes. When the device boots up, the apps automatically install. Parents don’t have to install or adjust applications or change settings: The phone is ready for children to use.

One of the preloaded apps is Kiwi Play for Kids, which allows parents to track a child’s location and supports responsible smartphone usage. Parents can check app usage by time, set time limits per app, and control which apps to install. They can also use the app to block calls from unknown numbers. Parents can be confident that the Kiwi Play app is always present to create a safe and secure mobile phone experience, because Knox Configure prevents kids from deleting preloaded apps even if the device is reset to factory settings.

The Samsung solution made it possible for LG U+ to take an existing line of devices and give it new life as the foundation for innovative childrens’ devices. Kiwi Plus uses Knox Configure to replace the home and lock screens with images featuring the trendy Kakao characters. The exclusive character-themed layouts and icons are visible as soon as customers turn on their phones. Kiwi Plus also preloads LG U+’s own kids' apps, including audio storybooks, picture books, and educational programs.

Using Knox Configure, we could cost-effectively transform a standard commercial smartphone into a custom children’s phone with safety features and content kids want.

-Chulhoon Byun, Chief Director, Kiwi Plus

As a result of this partnership, LG U+ has pioneered an exciting new smartphone product just for kids, expanding the customer segment dramatically in a short period of time. The new phone filled a market void, as previous kids’ phones were low-end devices lacking the cool features and new capabilities that kids craved. And by providing discounts for families who sign new payment plans for their kids, LG U+ can lock in existing users.

  • Increased market share and subscriptions

    The first order of the Kakao phones nearly sold out within three months of launch in 2018, confirming the success of the safe-for-kids smartphone concept. LG U+ launched the second version of the Samsung phones in January 2019, with a larger volume sold within the first three months. The custom phones are contributing to overall growth of the company, driving revenue and subscriptions.

  • Reduced barriers to entry for phone launch

    Because Knox Configure eliminates manual configurations and manual unpackaging and repackaging to add customizations and preloaded apps, LG U+ and Kiwi Plus saved time and money in IT resources. This also means that LG U+ can easily convert any phone into a kid-specific phone, without ordering custom manufacturing or entailing much IT work.

    The success of the new phone will likely lead to more concept phones in the future. As the new leader in the kids' phone market, LG U+ will continue launching kid-customized phones with Samsung devices, at predicted sales of 100,000 devices annually. The company may also expand customized phones into other segments, such as for senior citizens.

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