By Kim Yoo-chul
LG Electronics is aiming to sell 6 million smartphones this year, a senior executive exclusively said Tuesday, asking not to be indentified.
The detailed sales target came at a time when LG was in "critical phase" to boost its smartphone presence.
Even if it meets this target, it would account for only 30 percent of Samsung Electronics' sales.
Some industry experts believe that the LG goal is ambitious, considering its late start. LG has all but been excluded from the Apple-Samsung smartphone competition, which dragged down its outlook.
LG has decided to reduce its bloated mobile phone lineup by half to around 70 from last year's 145.
It plans to release 20 sets of smartphones this year with 15 models being Android phones.
He said that 4.2 million phones will be Android-based, while 1.8 million will use Microsoft's Windows Mobile operating system, the executive said.
"We can't exactly predict the market. But one thing clear is LG is heavily betting on Google’s Android operating system. The number of Android phones will be more than earlier expected," an LG spokesman said.
A market research firm International Data Corp. (IDC) said the global smartphone market rose 50 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of this year with much of that growth resulting from handset makers adopting the Android system.
LG hopes that this boosted sale of smartphones will help turn it around.
The company suffered from some 119.6 billion won in operating losses in its handset business during the April-June period, being weighed down by the heavy portion of its unprofitable and conventional feature phones that had sapped margins.
"LG has been in talks with several major carriers in the United States and those in Europe to boost the shipments of the Optimus series," the executive said.
LG officials said its "Optimus One with Google" will be released via 120 mobile carriers worldwide.
As of the end of the second quarter, Samsung’s global smartphone share was 4.8 percent, according to IDC. But LG’s presence was negligible.
With its lineup readjustment, LG expects to lower the overall sales target of mobile phones.
During the first six months of this year, LG sold 57.7 million mostly low-end phones. LG’s target in handsets for this year was 140 million.
"What we want to do is to regain our competitive edge in the smartphone sector. We are not ruling out the possibility to lower the earlier projections," an LG official said.
LG’s global share in the total mobile market was around 10 percent, while Samsung Electronics was eating up over 20 percent as of the end of the first half, according to market research firms.
LG is hiring more software-related experts to guarantee the stability of the specifications of its smartphones after it had failed to attract consumers with the previous Andro-1.
It recently replaced the chief of its corporate design center and is planning to expand the number of countries where its applications are available.
LG전자, 스마트폰 올 600만대 판매
LG전자가 올해 스마트폰 판매 목표를 최소 600만대 이상으로 올려잡았다.
세계 3위 휴대폰 업체임에도 스마트폰 시장에서 뒤처져 구겨진 자존심을 회복하겠다는 강력한 의지의 표현인 것.
LG전자는 또 올해 출시될 총 핸드폰 모델수를 작년의 145개에서 70여개로 줄여 외형 확장 보다는 수익성 회복에 역량을 집중할 방침이다.
LG전자 고위관계자는 10일 ``올해 최소 6백만대 이상 스마트폰을 판매할 것’’이라며 ``보급형 스마트폰을 생산, 본격적인 스마트폰 시장 확대에 적극 대응하겠다’’고 말했다.
LG전자는 안드로이드 OS(운영체제)를 채택한 스마트폰 비중을 올해 스마트폰의 70%로 가져갈 계획이다. 마이크로소프트사의 윈도모바일 OS를 채용한 스마트폰 비중은 30%로 가져갈 것으로 알려졌다.
익명을 요구한 이 고위관계자는 ``전체 스마트폰 판매목표 중 안드로이드 기반 스마트폰은 4백2십만대, 윈도모바일 기반 스마트폰은 1백8십만대 수준이 될 것’’이라며 ``연말까지 안드로이드폰을 15종 출시할 것’’이라고 덧붙였다.
이에 대해 LG측은 ``아직 시장 수요를 정확히 예측할 수는 없지만 안드로이드 기반 스마트폰 비중을 늘려갈 것’’이라고 말했다.
전체 휴대폰 판매 목표 하향 조정 가능성에 대해 이 관계자는 ``그 같은 가능성을 완전히 배제하지는 않는다’’며 ``중요한 것은 스마트폰의 경쟁력을 갖추는 것’’이라고 강조했다.
LG전자는 올해 휴대폰 사업목표로 지난해 대비 20% 이상 증가한 1억4천만대 판매를 제시한 바 있다.
스마트폰 사업 역량 강화를 위해 LG는 최근 스마트폰 사업부를 확대 재편했으며 KAIST 산업디자인학과 이건표 교수를 디자인경영센터장(부사장)으로 영입했다.