Today, we’ll introduce ABKO, a Korean computer equipment firm finding success in a market mostly dominated by large international firms. Let’s hear from Lee Ho(이호) from the company’s marketing team.
ABKO was established in 2001 as a developer and manufacturer of computer-related equipment. The company has since grown steadily, as it was designated as one of promising venture firms dedicated to developing new technologies and won the Seoul Digital Valley Top 100 CEO Award.
In 2010, the company started researching and developing computer cases and gaming gear tailored to the needs of local consumers, and it has retained the top position in the domestic market since 2016. Moving beyond the local market, it’s ready to compete with global companies in the world market.
The company has outstanding passion for technology and an acute sense of the market. Thanks to experiences it had accumulated in the PC distribution market prior to jumping in to the manufacturing business, the company had a good sense what customers wanted and what technology should be used to meet their needs.
In 2002, one year after its foundation, the firm set up a research institute and began to develop computer-related tools. Every year since, the company has released some fifty different varieties of high-quality PC cases featuring wonderful designs at reasonable prices. ABKO now accounts for 35 to 40 percent of the local PC case market, which had been previously saturated with imported products. In 2015, the company advanced into the gaming gear market.
ABKO saw the potential of the industry when Koreans began to use personal computers, and employed aggressive marketing strategies. But from 2010, the trend was gradually shifted from PC to mobile devices and ubiquitous connections. While other companies were following the trend, we paid close attention to the global e-sports market. We made the bold decision to jump into the gaming gear industry and became the number one player in the domestic market in terms of market share in just a short period of time.
As the focus of information technology shifted from PC to mobile, markets for PCs and relevant equipment contracted. But the gaming gear industry turned out to be the exception to this trend. With the appeal of computer games firmly establishing itself, the market for gaming equipment has expanded.
Gaming tools here include keyboards, mice, and headsets designed to improve gaming speed and accuracy. The global gaming gear market last year amounted to 30 billion US dollars, up 40 percent from the year earlier.
ABKO correctly identified this business opportunity and poured investment into the development of gaming equipment. The company’s monthly sales of keyboards reached 35-thousand units just six months after the company entered the domestic market. It was able to raise its market share quickly due to its high performance and low cost. Products range from membrane keyboards, mechanical keyboards, and of course, membrane-mechanical hybrid keyboards. Last year, the company unveiled an optical switch keyboard for the first time in the domestic market.
ABKO’s identity could be defined by the word “first.” We have released many products with the title of “first” in the local keyboard and gaming gear market. Among our products, the optical switch keyboard clearly stands out.
A mechanical keyboard uses physical switches. When you press a key, the switch underneath the key is pressed down to send an electric signal to the PC, telling it that you pressed that key. In the optical switch keyboard, on the other hand, an electric signal is created by blocking light. Frequent physical contact with switches in mechanical keyboards increases the chance of malfunction, while the optical switch keyboard relies on light for key-stroke registry. This simpler structure ensures permanent or semi-permanent trouble-free operation.
Our optical switch keyboard has the same IP68 certification as Korea’s top smartphones, making it resistance to both water and dust.
The keyboard is essential when writing documents, working at the office and playing computer games. Not surprisingly, there are many types of keyboards from which to choose.
When a keycap is pressed on conventional keyboard, the printed circuit board registers the key press and sends a signal to the computer. In contrast, an infrared sensor on the optical switch keyboard detects light when the key is pressed and creates a key-press registry. As the optical switch keyboard uses light, which is faster than electricity, its response is quicker than that of existing keyboards.
ABKO became the first Korean keyboard maker to earn IP68 certification demonstrating superior water and dust-resistance. Strong durability is another advantage of the optical switch keyboard.
Perhaps the ultimate goal of all keyboard makers is to deliver great performance. On top of this, we also put a great deal of effort into enhancing product durability. We’ve been selling more than 500-thousand optical switch keyboards in the local market since we first launched the product in July last year. But there have been less than 100 requests for after-sales service.
The company’s optical switch keyboards have an exceptionally low defect rate, drawing rave reviews from consumers. ABKO has also been selected as a ‘Hi Seoul’ brand company in recognition by Seoul City as a promising small- and mid-sized firm. In addition, it has obtained two ISO certifications for management systems – ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. The former is for quality management and the latter is for environmentally friendly management.
Now, the company is ready to make its next big leap forward and compete internationally.
In many cases, global brands have competed and are competing with Korean firms in the domestic market. But not many home-grown brands are competing with world-renowned businesses in the global market.
ABKO has successfully lifted its market share here in Korea to rank first in the local market. Based on our expertise on research and development, we’ll tap into foreign markets aggressively and hopefully expand our presence there. We hope to show to our consumers that the Korean brand of ABKO can achieve success in the global market as well with its world-level technical prowess.
ABKO has established itself as a representative Korean manufacturer of computer-related equipment by developing some 1,000 products, including PC cases and keyboards. While competing with foreign brands in the Korean market, the company has already proven its capabilities. Driven by its reliable and high performing products, ABKO is now poised to challenge the global market.