LG seeks comeback with Optimus G
By Kim Yoo-chul
LG Electronics hopes to make a strong comeback in the heated smartphone market with its latest device, the Optimus G, which it believes will help it catch up with rivals Samsung Electronics and Apple.
The company lags far behind in the race for Web-connected devices such as smartphones, but the company is now primed for a big fight back at a time when the industry is introducing long-term evolution (LTE) mobile technology.
``We’ve tried very hard to manufacture high-value phones. I can say that LG Electronics is finally prepared to directly compete with Samsung’s Galaxy S3 and Apple iPhone 5,” said LG mobile chief Park Jong-seok at a press conference at the Grand Hilton Hotel in northern Seoul, Tuesday.
“The Optimus G is the outcome of collaboration between LG’s technology affiliates,’’ he said.
At the launch event attended by more than 100 local and overseas media, Park stressed that Optimus G is the best product that LG has produced.
The Optimus G has a 4.7-inch in-plane switching (IPS) screen provided by LG Display and is powered by a new 1.5-gigahertz quad-core Snapdragon S4 processor supplied by Qualcomm. It also has 32-gigabite of internal memory, 2-gigabite of RAM and a large 2,100mAh battery, and features LTE.
Park said the phone will help LG Electronics achieve its global smartphone sales target for the year of 35 million. ``Our management target ― 80 million including 35 million smartphones and 8 million 4G LTE models ― is achievable. Shipments have been increasing since the third quarter. LG is growing,’’ the company executive said.
The firm had record annual sales of 117 million in 2009 propelled by huge demand for its stylish feature models such as Chocolate, Prada and Shine.
But according to Strategy Analytics (SA), a leading market research firm, LG Electronics sold a total of 26.8 million phones including 10 million smartphones in the first six months of this year because the global smartphone market is dominated by Samsung Electronics and Apple.
``We want to a game changer and I think that LG can do because the Optimus G phone is well-made, has competitive hardware and has a far enhanced user-interface experience,’’ Park said.
Another hidden point that strongly supports Park’s confidence is U.S.-based telecom chip giant Qualcomm’s full backing of LG.
The Qualcomm 1.5-gigaherz quad-core processor used in the Optimus G provides LTE capability ― the first time that LG Electronics has received such processors from the U.S. firm.
Senior executives at LG Display, LG Innotek and LG Chem participated in the unveiling event ― a Qualcomm executive was also invited. ``Qualcomm is siding with us,’’ Park said. ``All I want is LG’s success.’’
Park said he is not worrying too much about increased spending for promotional campaigns because he believes LG’s brand awareness is also strengthening. ``It is too early to talk about a turnaround in profit. But the main thing is LG’s mid- to long-term growth momentum has been recovering,’’ he said.
The Optimus G phone will hit local shelves from next week and be rolled out in Japan and the United States from October and November, respectively. ``We will finish global launches by November. All models that will be shipped to Asian countries are definitely going to support LTE,’’ said Bae Won-beok, chief of LG’s product planning office.
Samsung Securities, that had previously presented a ``hold’’ position on LG Electronics stocks, changed its view to ``buy’’ and raised its target to 100,000 won from the previous 70,000 won.
``We think the new Optimus phone is more competitive than rivals at least in terms of hardware specifications. It will help LG see a V-shaped recovery in profits. Its handset business will see a big turnaround in the first quarter of next year,’’ said Cho Sung-eun, an analyst at Samsung.