LG Holding Google Close in Bid for the Top
LG Electronics' plan to gain double-digit market share in the global mobile handset market by 2012 appears to figure largely on hitching its cart to the Google Android mobile operating system.
On March 10, LG officials introduced the Android-running LG-KH5200 in South Korea, and after being vague in January by declining to specify how many phones on its 2010 roster will feature the open-source OS, now say they will include Android on 10 of their 20 planned handsets, according to reports from Reuters.
The new smartphone features a 3-inch touch-sensitive display, a 5-megapixel camera, a slide-out qwerty keypad and a price of approximately $575.
LG's stated goals include rising to one of the top-two positions in the handset market, which would mean besting either hometown rival Samsung or longtime market dominator Nokia. In the third quarter of 2009, LG shipped an all-time high of 31.6 million handsets, though it was Samsung that broke through the "psychologically important" 20 percent market share position, Strategy Analytics Analyst Neil Mawston wrote in an Oct. 30, 2009 report.
In the fourth quarter, both companies again shipped record numbers, with Samsung passing the 200 million units mark and LG reaching 33.9 million units-a rise of 32 percent from its numbers a year earlier. Whether these climbing numbers are enough to reach its stated goal, however, are unclear.
"LG ... is certainly set to take advantage of the momentum we are seeing [with Android]," Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi told eWEEK, after LG's January announcement. Strategy Analytics Analyst Bonny Joy added, however, that LG needed to "effectively differentiate" itself from Motorola HTC and Google, and it was still "too early to say they are going to advance in the segment."
More recently, Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT Research, pointed out that LG has a strong partner in Google, which seems to be determined to catch, if not pass, Apple.
"What's interesting to me is the very fast evolution of operating environments and the applications related to those. Apple has certainly captured a lot of mindshare ... but it's also obvious that Google is not going to be left behind, and it's pushing forward with numerous handset developers, like LG," King told eWEEK March 10.
He pointed out the Google Apps Marketplace, the specialized app store for enterprise applications that Google opened March 9, and explained that while Apple has made a play for the enterprise, it's tough to pitch the iPhone as a business tool.
"Working with LG could give Google a leg up and access to markets that haven't been addressed by many participants out there," King said.
"Apple's created a great deal of excitement, but the iPhone is still a minority player in a market dominated by companies like RIM. I really do think there's a lot of room for new players and new devices and companies that are taking a fresh look at how mobile devices can be used and how the market can evolve," King added, leaving room for LG to accomplish what it can.