LG Looks to Android to Pass Samsung or Nokia By 2012
LG Electronics announced a few New Year's resolutions
on Jan. 13, one of which was to sell 140 million units in 2010, representing a
20 percent year-over-year increase from 2009.
LG additionally announced that it is rolling out a multipart plan that will enable it to become one of the top two mobile device manufacturers in the world by 2012. A key part of this will be the introduction of 20 smartphones based on a variety of handset operating systems, including Google's Android, Microsoft's Windows Mobile and Linux.
LG said that in 2009, it opened approximately 100 mobile
retail stores in developing countries and that it now plans to push into Korean
and North American markets, where it wants to be known for innovative
smartphones. In the first half of the year, LG will release smartphones for
first-time buyers, followed by more "cutting edge" designs, presumably
to better compete against the likes of Apple, Motorola, BlackBerry maker
Research in Motion and Palm, in the second half.
"We are facing another revolutionary change in the
mobile industry thanks to the rapid growth of smartphones and demand for more
content and better services," said Skott Ahn, president and CEO of LG
Electronics, in a statement. "We will continue to make breakthroughs in
2010 as we strive to maintain our trendsetter status and become one of the
global top two by 2012."
In February 2009, LG agreed to make Windows Mobile the
primary operating system for its smartphones, and at
the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, it wowed with the introduction of a
very James Bond-like wristwatch phone, as well as other Windows
September it announced that it had three Windows Mobile-based phones on
the way, and in December it introduced the
LG eXpo, an enterprise-geared smartphone with a 1GHz processor and a 3.2-inch
touch screen, on the AT&T network.
LG didn't reveal how many of the 20 new smartphones
will run Android, but Ahn told Reuters,
"The fact that we'll have a bit more Android phones this year
doesn't mean our ties with Microsoft are weakening. Windows Mobile has
legacy issues that makes it challenging to compete in mobile: we know it, and
Microsoft knows it."
The goal, according to Roger Kay, an analyst with Endpoint
Technologies, is an ambitious one.
"The best bet for a company that doesn't have its own successful platform (i.e., RIM, Apple) is probably going to be Android, which comes with the backing of a solid brand name and access to a set of valuable services," Kay told eWEEK. "Still, LG has its work cut out for it."
Bonny Joy, a senior analyst with Strategy Analytics, says that LG is a credible player in the feature phone category, and that it benefited the most from troubles at Motorola and Sony Ericsson.
"However, in the smartphone space, especially in the Android platforms, LG will have to gain competitive strength in order to effectively differentiate from the likes of Motorola, HTC and now Google itself," Joy told eEWEEK. "They are a late comer to the party, and it is too early to say they are going to advance in the segment."
Carolina Milanesi, a research director with Gartner, believes these are still early days for Android. "LG might be getting into the game a bit later than HTC, and a little more quietly than Morotola, but it is certainly set to take advantage of the momentum we are seeing," she told eWEEK.
While Milanesi finds selling 140 million units a feasible goal for LG, she thinks becoming one of the top two is less likely. "It would imply that either Samsung or Nokia drop their position, and I do not see that happening," she told eWEEK.
In the third quarter of 2009, LG was number three in the
handset market. Meeting its 2012 goal would mean besting either Samsung or
market-leader Nokia. While Nokia has been faltering in past quarters, Samsung
shipped 60.2 million handsets during the quarter, which was up 16 percent from
a year earlier and, more importantly, said Strategy Analytics analyst Neil
Mawston, gave Samsung 20.7 percent market share, boosting it past the
"psychologically important" 20 percent mark.
LG also performed well during the third quarter, shipping an
all-time high of 31.6 million handsets, which Mawston partly attributed to its
unveiling of both Windows Mobile and Android-based
In the Jan. 13 announcement, LG also discussed its 3 Screen Service, which will also arrive in 2010 and enable users to view identical content on their handsets, PCs and televisions. In February it will launch a key component of this, a device that supports 3-Way Sync technology, which it said in the statement will "allow seamless viewing of all mobile, PC and Web content over a wireless network."