LG, with its New Optimus Line, Is Trying for Another Surge

LG CEO Park Jon-seok told the Journal that despite missteps in 2010, the company is poised to head back into the black as early as next quarter, thanks to its Optimus line.

LG Electronics has again announced plans to come on strong.

With its G-Slate tablet scheduled for a U.S. launch on T-Mobile, and a number of high-end Android-running smartphones planned for this year, the device maker is expecting to rebound after suffering considerable losses in 2010.

"Customers were only thinking about the iPhone or the Galaxy S when it came to smartphones last year. But from this year, the smartphone market will get bigger and LG will satisfy market needs with its rich lineup," LG CEO Park Jon-seok told the Wall Street Journal, according to a Feb. 14 report.

LG kicked off 2010 by announcing plans to sell 140 million units during the year and grab one of the top-two market-share positions - which would have entailed unseating either Nokia or Samsung - by 2012. Instead, the company sold just shy of 117 million phones, and during the fourth quarter posted a year-on-year change in shipments that was down nearly 10 percent.

According to IDC, LG shipped 30.6 million units during the fourth quarter - which was up from the 28.4 million phones it shipped the quarter before, but down from its 33.9 million units during the fourth quarter of 2009 and well behind the present fourth-quarter performances of of number-two Samsung, with 80.7 million units, and market leader Nokia, with 123.7 million units.

The IDC report attributed LG's crossing of the 30-million-mark during the quarter to its Optimus One smartphone, and pointed positively to its upcoming Optimus 2X and Optimus Black. Though the analyst firm added that during the quarter, "LG's feature phones comprised the majority of shipments, but an aging portfolio and lower prices within emerging markets left the company vulnerable to the competition."

This year, however, LG plans to launch 20 smartphones, sell as many as 30 million units, and boost its smartphone market share into the double digits - up from 2010's 2.5 percent - Park told the Journal.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, the company introduced more than a dozen devices, including the Quantum, its first smartphone to run Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 OS. This week, at the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona, the company showed off its Optimus 3D smartphone - which features a 4.3-inch WVGA display for showing off 3D content without special glasses, a dual-core processor and a 3D platform for recording and sharing 3D video -as well as the Optimus tablet (the G-Slate, to U.S. audiences), which features a 3D camera.

Park said that the company let its guard down last year, just as the industry made a major shift toward smartphones. "But we've started the attack since late last year and LG will offer a full range of premium products this year," Park said, according to the Journal.LG announced Feb. 14 that it has teamed with Google's YouTube to offer users the ability to view 3D videos on their cell phones without the need for special 3D glasses. The company is also in talks with major carriers in Japan and Europe about offering its Optimus Pad, and during the second half of the year, Parks said LG plans to begin offering a phone featuring organic light emitting diode, or OLED, technology, which makes for brighter and more energy-efficient displays."I am definitely sure that we will return to a profit sometime within this year and it may even happen during the first half of the year," Park told the Journal.