Phone business

It’s official! LG abandons the mobile phone market

LG officially announced this morning that it is leaving the mobile phone business. The company said it would still be looking to offload its inventory of handsets. It will also offer service support and software updates for its existing devices which will last for a certain period of time depending on the region. The decision to exit the industry was approved today by LG’s board of directors. Six years of losses wiped about $4.5 billion off LG’s books
In a press release dated today, LG said its “strategic decision to exit the incredibly competitive mobile phone industry will allow the company to focus its resources on growth areas such as vehicle components electronics, connected appliances, smart homes, robotics, artificial intelligence and enterprise -to business solutions, as well as platforms and services.” Throughout the process of closing the business, LG said it would work with business partners and suppliers. As far as employees are concerned, decisions will be made at the local level.

LG would rather quit than fight

LG says it will still work on mobile technologies. “Going forward, LG will continue to leverage its mobile expertise and develop mobility-related technologies such as 6G to help further strengthen competitiveness in other business areas. Core technologies developed over two decades of LG’s mobile business will also be retained and applied to existing and future products.

LG’s involvement in the handset industry began before the rise of the smartphone. The company started with a line of flip phones and in 2005 it launched the flip VX-9800. Yours truly owned this phone which had an external screen and an internal screen. When the flip opened, the phone had a QWERTY keyboard. When closed, the device looked like a camera. The following year, it launched a phone-MP3 hybrid player called the LG Chocolate.

In December 2006, a month before the introduction of the iPhone, LG announced the first touchscreen mobile phone, the LG Prada. In November 2007, the LG Voyager was released. Yours truly had this handset which featured a hard to navigate resistive touchscreen. It was the first feature phone to drop the WAP browser for an HTML browser and it included live TV, two screens and a QWERTY keyboard. For Verizon customers who wanted an iPhone, it was the device they bought even though it wasn’t a smartphone. Remember, back then, the iPhone was an AT&T exclusive.

The LG Optimus series was a line of smartphones created by LG that ran on Windows Mobile or Android. Over time, the Optimus G series was replaced by the new LG G2 and this model remained LG’s flagship phone through the LG G8XThinQ. The latter offered a second removable screen as an accessory. As LG continued to struggle to outperform fellow South Korean manufacturer Samsung, it tried to find something different to grab consumers’ attention. An example of this was last year’s LG Wing which came out of the box with a 6.8-inch screen that swivels 90 degrees to reveal a secondary 3.9-inch display.

The end of LG’s mobile phone business means the company’s rollable phone will be scratched. The company said in a statement that the LG Rollable is no longer part of its product strategy. Just last month, rumors about the device were still spreading and a phone with LG’s model number LM-R910N received certification to use Bluetooth 5.2. The device was supposed to roll out (ahem) with a 7.4-inch screen and a smaller display on the back. The introduction of the phone was reportedly delayed due to issues with the roll-up mechanism and questions about the durability of the device.

While LG plans to shut down its mobile phone business completely by July 31, inventory of some phones may still be available after that date. The big question is who will end up with LG’s 10% of the North American smartphone market. On the mainland, LG is third after Samsung and Apple. Considering that LG users are familiar with Android, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Samsung grabbing a big chunk of LG’s market share in the region. LG’s global share of the smartphone market is only 2%. It delivered 23 million handsets last year against 256 million delivered by Samsung.

LG tried to sell its smartphone business to Vietnam-based Vingroupo, but the two couldn’t agree on the terms of a deal.