As expected, LG is exiting the mobile phones business.
LG is one of the world’s largest consumer electronics companies, but the company has had a hard time competing with major players in the smartphone space like Samsung, Huawei and Apple. While the company has made some of the most interesting smartphones in recent years, that hasn’t always (or often) led to commercial success in a competitive marketplace. So LG has announced it’s done trying to compete.
LG’s phone business had been losing money for a while – over the past six years, the phone division had an operating loss of about $4.4 billion. Recently the company has been exploring options to exit the mobile space, possibly by selling its assets to another company. But unable to find a buyer after talks with several potential suitors fell through, LG decided to just cut its losses and call it quits.
The company says the move will free up resources that can be focused on “growth areas,” including smart home, connected devices, electric vehicles, and business-to-business solutions. LG says it will also leverage the technology it has developed for smartphones over the past two decades toward future products including 6G devices (for whenever that becomes a thing).
You may still be able to buy existing LG phones for the next few months – LG says the wind down of its mobile phone business is expected to be finished by July 31, but some phones may still continue to be available past that time. And LG says it will continue to offer service support and software updates for those phones for some period of time (although it’s unclear how long that period will be, and LG says it will vary by region). Just don’t expect any new phones from LG moving forward.
Among other things, that means the LG Rollable smartphone the company has been teasing will probably never see the light of day, although it’s possible LG could sell its Rollable screens to other companies interested in making their own versions.
LG’s gone but my V20 lives on, thanks to its replaceable battery.
My LG G3, G5, and V20 were all awesome. Replaceable batteries, amazing screens, and high quality audio. But yes, I’ve never seen a commercial and only found those phones looking for certain features. They sold a bunch of G3’s when they came out and they promoted the 2k screens. I hope that TCL can take up their space.
I ditched LG when they ditched the swappable batteries.
I now have a Sonim XP8.
Damnit. They were the only interesting player left on the field. I was set on an LG for my next phone, except I didn’t want to upgrade yet since my old phone still serves me perfectly.
They kept the headphone jack on high-end phones and added a good DAC to it, they had the DeX-like desktop mode, they had good screens and used current-gen SoC and although they were quite expensive when new, but so is everybody else, and the price always dropped to a reasonable level withing a year. I hate the current Samsung for the notch, no-headphone, exynos-ridden camera-bumpy monstrosities they ridiculed Apple for but did it all the same within a year. Xiaomi also gave up the jack and they routinely skip the IP-rating of their phones, and while back in the day their phones were the most open ones on the scene, setting up TWRP for a Mi4 was a matter of minutes they became one of the most closed down recently, and their OS is full of system-level ads I’m not willing to suffer. Huawei was murdered, Oppo is just a white-label Chinese brand, HTC is history, Nokia is just a logo and Motorola… they also exist.
Great, one step closer to monopoly and no phone visibly standing out from any other. But these days, if a phone doesn’t have a custom operating system installed, or isn’t a Linux phone, then it’s a part of making life worse for everyone.
I find that becoming increasingly true as time goes on and google keeps getting more evil and apple goes along with it.
I’m not surprised at all. The problem with their mobile phones was that nobody ever knew what to expect. Every generation it seemed like they fired their designers and engineers, and started fresh.
Not at all.
What they sucked at was: Marketing, Pricing, Questionable Executive Choices. To be honest, I could’ve made them profitable, as could have a dozen other people.
Their biggest problem was themselves. LG has enough time, money, staff, resources, etc etc to be successful but it was their CHOICE to be NOT successful. If you’re interested in what I would’ve done to turn the tide, reply and I’ll follow up with a lengthy process how.
How would you do it?
Well, the key to their success is: Work Hard, Ask for a Fair Price, and Advertise. And that requires a vision. People look at Samsung’s for the best screen, they look at Pixel’s for the longest Android support, etc etc.
As an apt analogy, think of the best car in the world. A lot of people would say that is a Porsche, as it is sleek, fast, futuristic. But a lot of people would disagree as it is not rugged, utilitarian, lacks features, and they would recommend a Jeep. And then there’s a lot of people that would disagree with both saying, one is too impractical and the other is too clunky, for real-world use they would suggest a Subaru. As you can see, it is a work in compromises, and you have to choose your demographic.
So making the best phone in the market, basically relies on serving one of those demographics. Or making two or three distinct phones for each segment if you are able to. Then making sure your device is available, priced competitively, and you do some very smart marketing with it.
Now, the “porsche” demographic is overcrowded with the likes of Apple, Sony, Samsung, OnePlus, Huawei. They’re all focusing on removing features, adding fastest processors, and putting style above all else. The “JEEP” demographic is under-served, with few competitors like CAT, Sonim, and those thick-case companies, but they are really clunky to use in practice. Still it’s a good target, albeit, somewhat of a niche (like those landscape-qwerty phones of the past). The middle “Subaru” demographic is actually ripe for the taking, the time the market was dominated here was back in 2014 when we used to have No-Compromise Phones. So that is what I would target.
If I was in LG’s shoes, I would look to streamline my portfolio. It might mean only selling ONE device per year, which makes it much easier for QC, Software development, software updates, stock management, and accessories. And I would choose only ONE demographic, which in this case is the Subaru class.
The phone would be designed that is actually consumer friendly, it mocks flagship competitors, and brilliant marketing. Combining online, guerrilla marketing, an unveiling event for pre-orders, and ship devices out quickly. There wouldn’t be the mind-games played by Samsung and friends which releases phones high priced just to cut prices after a couple months. This ensures goodwill from consumers, and mocks this superficial company behaviour. On top of that, there would be no carrier exclusives, but enough marketing to get phones on shelves and selling mainstream. And lastly, the phones would also be community friendly, by having them with unlockable bootloaders and perhaps even a basic Linux image so that hobbyists can go bananas with it. All this goodwill, which takes years to build-up, leads to people supporting and buying my device over competitors for themselves, and their families and friends.
I was just referring to the consumer perspective. Nobody liked their phones because it was hard to follow their brand’s direction.
You’re absolutely right, they failed at many things. And to be honest, it seemed like they weren’t even trying. Sometimes it almost seemed like they were simply releasing phones to act as an industry showcase for their component supply business.
They also frequently released phones that were “flagship” in LG’s eyes, but sub-flagship in consumer’s eyes. Every one of their G-model phones was marginally inferior to the Samsung Galaxy-S model of the same year, and they were never priced accordingly.
They also consistently just threw ideas at the wall, and then ran with it. Almost as if they didn’t do any market research.
The LG G5 was admittedly a good idea on paper, the modular concept. But in practice it was absolutely brutal. The fit and finish was awful (all due to the swappable body section), and this also resulted in a lack of an IP rating, in a time when people were starting to demand IP ratings on phones. LG completely didn’t understand what people wanted, and consistently so.
I agree. I also thought they hurt themselves with no clear design vision at a crucial time. They built up a brand identity and signature style with the G2, G3, and G4. Some even preferred LG’s approach. Then the G4 bootloop issue happened, which I think hurt them quite a bit. I know I definitely was more cautious when looking at LG phones. The G5 was a total redesign and had issues, as you point out, plus was in the wake of the bootloop disaster. And then the G6 was another total redesign. I know I viewed LG as a company with no design consistency or any idea of what they wanted their phones to be, and they stood out less too.
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