Desperate LG has high hopes for Galaxy Note competitor
LG Electronics plans to release a new mobile Internet device aimed at consumers looking for something bigger than smartphones and smaller than conventional tablets.
Samsung Electronics, its local archrival, already has such a product in Galaxy Note, which is built around a 5.3-inch display, but LG claims that its similar-sized product, Optimus VU, differentiates in a meaningful way.
The company plans to showcase the Optimus VU at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona later this month and its media officials are desperately trying to sell the word ``phablet,’’ an awkward combination between ``phone’’ and ``tablet.’’
Optimus VU features a 5-inch display, run on fourth-generation Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks and supports IceCream Sandwich, the latest version of Google’s Android mobile operating system, company officials said.
Aside of conventional functions such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, Optimus VU will also support near field communications (NFC) technology that enables users to use the devices like a credit card.
Unlike the Galaxy Note, Optimus VU will feature a 4:3 aspect screen ratio, which is rare among touch-screen devices currently sold.
``After its European release, Optimus VU will be sold in Korea from early March. We are talking with mobile-phone operators over handset prices,’’ said LG spokeswoman Choi Hee-jeong.
SK Telecom and LG Uplus are the carriers that are likely to add Optimus VU to their lineup, due to their advantage in LTE networks over KT, the other wireless operator.
It remains to be seen whether Apple, the undisputed king of tablets, will decide to enter the new market Samsung and LG are attempting to carve.
There are rumors that Apple might release a smaller version of the iPad during the first half of the year, which would obliterate demand for the Galaxy Note and Optimus VU.
Samsung has already sold more than a million Galaxy Notes, showing that its gamble with smaller tablets was a solid decision.
``Consumers are widely-opened to the idea of the ‘phablet,’ which we believe strikes the right balance in functionality and size,’’ said Choi.
LG Electronics rose as the world’s second-biggest maker of LTE-capable handsets during the fourth quarter of last year, trailing market leader Samsung, data from market research firm Strategy Analytics (SA) showed.
During the October-December period, LG sold 800,000 LTE phones, capturing 20 percent of the global share, helped by the rising sales of the Optimus LTE and other variants, said SA.
Samsung sold 1.7 million phones with a 41 percent global share during the same period, keeping it in the top position for the second straight quarter.