By July 2021, the world may say a final goodbye to the global mobile division of LG Electronics Inc. This is when they can be expected to back off, although sales of their machines and parts will continue for the inventory that is still available in the market.
Reports earlier this year had already predicted the division’s closure after nearly 6 consecutive years of losses of around $4.5 billion.
The last time LG Mobile was profitable was in 2014, and at that time, it was considered as one of the best smartphone manufacturers in the world with innovative designs.
It started well
The smartphone market has always been fiercely competitive, but somehow LG has been a tough competitor thanks to its risk-taking nature.
2011 was a defining year for LG when it entered the Guinness Book of Records after the Optimus 2X was the world’s first publicly available dual-core phone (announced and released).
There certainly were issues with its operating system, but early adopters were more than happy to overlook its shortcomings. This will also set the tone for LG’s adventurous spirit when it comes to their phones.
LG’s first G-series smartphone, the Optimus G, was already considered better than the flagship phone efforts from Samsung and HTC at the time, but LG took it one step higher with the G2 in 2013.
It had a larger battery than the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One M7 competitors, and the camera supported 1080p/60fps recording ahead of Samsung. In the same year, the Optimus L4 was also the first triple-SIM smartphone on the market.
In 2015, the G4 brought some variants back to the table, a feature that Huawei, Oppo, and Vivo have since copied. It also had microSD expansion and a removable battery, the latter a feature LG would include in many of its future smartphones as well.
It shocked a certain group of users because it made it possible for them to replace and charge the dead battery on the go via “cradles” that LG also sells.
The V20 may be one of the most talked about smartphones in history, as it was launched in 2016. It was the first LG smartphone to introduce Quad DAC, a system that boosted the sound quality of the port.
It will continue to become a hallmark of LG smartphones, making it a go-to for music lovers, DJs, and musicians.
Other revolutionary and unique smartphone designs LG has created over the years include the LG G Flex, the world’s first flexible smartphone, the V40 with its five cameras (a world first from LG), and LG’s Dual Screen Case.
When its competitors were looking at foldable phones, LG took a different tack and instead offered users an optional second screen that they could connect and detach from the V50, G8x, and V60.
so what happened?
In the first quarter of 2014, LG revealed that it had sold more than 5 million LTE-enabled smartphones, up 79% from what it had sold throughout the previous year.
It was an all-time record for the company at the time, and they also said they shipped a total of 12.3 million smartphones in the first three months of the year..
Not to mention that by then, the company also had a range of smartphones at different price points, making it an affordable option for many.
But several major issues will begin to weaken the company’s mobile phone line and cause sales to lose momentum.
1) Bootloop issues that broke customer trust
LG’s flagship phone at the time in 2015, the G4, was suffering from bootloop issues, a hardware issue that causes the phone to enter a never-ending reboot cycle. Affected users were forced to find service centers and received a G4 replacement, but unfortunately many replacements have had the same bootloop issues.
This broke customer trust and possibly trust in the brand, and in 2018 LG settled a class action lawsuit over bootloop issues on not just the G4, but the G5, V10, and V20, to name a few other stricken phones.
2) They had a creative spirit, but applications fell short
LG, wanting to provide users with a different experience, started experimenting with modular smartphones. They made it possible to attach various attachments to the bottom of the G5, which were supposed to provide additional functionality.
However, the units were limited in number and usefulness and, therefore, were not popular with consumers either.
3) Very slow major software updates
The company has a poor track record of providing users with major software updates on time even for their flagship devices. They have already admitted this several times and said they will develop a department to speed things up.
In 2018, we saw this being achieved through the software upgrade section, but for some reason, few changes were seen in its slowness.
4) Weak marketing efforts compared to competitors
When was the last time you saw a marketing campaign or advertisement for LG smartphones? For me, it’s been many years, mainly in movie theaters during those 20-minute ad segments.
Compared to other smartphone brands like Samsung and Apple, LG has never pulled out all the stops when it comes to shouting new phone launches. This caused their launches to typically fly under the radar, until something unique or quirky was pointed out in the reviews.
Unfortunately, one or two standout features weren’t really enough to convince consumers to make the purchase.
5) They were often the first, but rarely the best
One of LG’s strongest points has been their experimental attitude to creating unique designs, but something they lack is their conviction to develop them to their heights.
This made them the first to launch many unique designs which have since been picked up and improved by other brands at a faster pace.
Take the ultra-wide camera functionality and its initial bezel-less push with the G2, both features made popular by its competitors instead.
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It’s clear that while other brands have preferred the safer path of improvements over iteration, LG has always preferred to try something new or radical.
Unfortunately, the mass market didn’t always appreciate their innovative moves, which slowed adoption and sales. Early adopters alone cannot sustain a brand.
While the mainstream market looks at LG smartphones and wonders, “Why do we even need something like that?” , the group of users who still admire LG’s passion will reply, “But why not?”
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