Posted : 2016-03-24 17:19
Updated : 2016-03-24 19:55

LG shrugs off rivalry threat from budget iPhone

LG Electronics mobile business chief Cho Juno poses with the company's new flagship smartphone, the G5, before holding a meeting with local reporters, at an experience zone in southern Seoul, Thursday. / Yonhap

By Lee Min-hyung

LG Electronics on Thursday waxed lyrical about its new flagship smartphone, the G5, shrugging off challenges from Apple's new "budget iPhone" amid a slowdown in the high-end smartphone market.

The hype is part of LG's bid to build strong brand loyalty at a time when the company needs a turnaround to end the underperformance of its mobile unit and rebound from its relatively weak profile in the premium device market.

"Cost-effectiveness is not what device makers necessarily pursue, but they should create a very special value and make something out of it," Cho Juno, LG Electronics' mobile chief, said in a meeting with reporters in southern Seoul. "The same thing goes for us. That's why we do not care too much about a rival's product. LG will tackle the lukewarm market response in the high-end handset market in the same regard."

Apple launched the iPhone SE, a revamped version of its iPhone 5S, on Monday in the United States. The less-expensive Apple smartphone is expected to land here in May, more than a month after G5's official Korean launch on Mar. 31.

The remarks came as the company held a press event offer hands-on experience for its modular handset, the first of its kind, as its global debut nears.

Under the theme of fun and imagination, the company previously unveiled the LG Friends, a line of companion devices equipped with interchangeable modules, as its first move into the relatively young modular device industry.

"LG Electronics does not care seriously about rankings, at the moment, as we are focused on making sure the new device provides consumers a variety of options to have fun," Cho said. "By combining fun and imaginative elements, we are sure to overcome market uncertainties."

Regarding Samsung's Galaxy trade-in program, Cho said the company is in internal talks to launch a similar program of its kind, but declined to comment in detail.

Earlier this month, Samsung Electronics launched its own smartphone upgrade program, Galaxy Club, in a move to strengthen customer loyalty. Apple was the first to introduce a trade-in program, launching the iPhone Upgrade Program in the U.S. last year.

"We are in discussions to launch our own customer care program, but no specific blueprint has been drawn," Cho said.

The company cannot exclude the possibility of giving up on such a marketing strategy, as its archrivals have already made that move, according to the mobile chief.

Speaking on the proposal of an ecosystem for modular device development, the company expressed its excitement, as this will help not just the company, but small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to attain sustainable growth.

"If we set an example by creating a new sales channel for the modular device ecosystem, this will generate explosive synergy in the saturated smartphone industry," Cho said.

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