Image: LG

LG is reportedly considering exiting the smartphone market, having lost an enormous 5 trillion won ($4.5 billion) over the past five years in the ultra-competitive segment. The news comes from The Korea Herald, which posted messages from CEO Kwon Bong-seok and other company officials hinting at a sale, downsizing, or complete withdrawal from the smartphone business.

“Regardless of any change in the direction of the smartphone business operation, the employment will be maintained, so there is no need to worry,” Bong-seok said.

“Since the competition in the global market for mobile devices is getting fiercer, it is about time for LG to make a cold judgment and the best choice,” an LG official explained. “The company is considering all possible measures, including sale, withdrawal and downsizing of the smartphone business.”

LG currently sells a wide variety of smartphones that range from the budget K30 Series to the flagship V Series. The company also has a couple of interesting novelty models, such as the LG WING, which comprises two screens, one of which can swivel.

“This is not the first time LG has been subject to such rumors, since it decided in 2019 to expand outsourcing of its low-end and midrange phone production,” The Korea Herald noted.

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11 Comments

  1. I think Samsung needs someone to keep them
    honest – and I don’t consider much of the Chinese brands (Xiaomi, Heuwei, Oppo, etc) serious contenders for the US.

    I don’t really consider Apple competition – yeah they are smartphones but most people are either 100% Apple and won’t consider anything else, or the exact opposite – so I don’t know that they really feed off each other a whole lot.

    Apart from that …. Motorola is owned by Lenovo now (Chinese but maybe ok?), Nokia/Microsoft died in 2017, I can’t really think of any others… HTC/Pixel?

  2. That would be a shame.

    Less competition in a market invariably leads to higher consumer prices and less choice.

    LG has always made good phones, though I admit, I haven’t bought one since my G2 years ago.

    Where is this “ultra competition” coming from? Those little Chinese upstarts like Oppo, Honor, Huawei One Plus, etc? I consider them all junk and would never consider buying one.

  3. My LG V40 has been great in every way, would be a bummer if they quit.
    Decent camera’s, Great DAC with MQA and good screen and battery life.

    I’m 2 years in on it now and feel absolutely no need to “upgrade”.

  4. Would be nice if they decided to just go full-Nexus: stop trying to customize their phones and just put out stuff that’s different from Google’s Pixels at the hardware level while keeping the software all stock.

    Then commit to immediate software releases because their input is reduced to pushing the ‘deploy’ button and rake in the bucks.

  5. [QUOTE=”LazyGamer, post: 27970, member: 1367″]
    Would be nice if they decided to just go full-Nexus: stop trying to customize their phones and just put out stuff that’s different from Google’s Pixels at the hardware level while keeping the software all stock.

    Then commit to immediate software releases because their input is reduced to pushing the ‘deploy’ button and rake in the bucks.
    [/QUOTE]
    I had the LG V10 and the software updates for it were horrid (with respects to timing). Went from the V10 straight to Pixel XL and haven’t looked back. Went XL, to 3XL to 5 (There is no XL for 5 sadly).

    I just made the move back in October, so I’ll be good for another 2-3 years. Only reason why I had to ditch my 3XL after 2 years was the unit’s WiFi and Cellular modem was failing. Battery held up relatively well for 2 years, and probably had another year left in it.

    Let’s see how this 5 pans out. So far so good.

  6. [QUOTE=”Uvilla, post: 27973, member: 397″]
    How do you lose that much money?
    [/QUOTE]
    The Android market is extremely low margin – your competing against all those knockoff phones that spend $0 on R&D and have in 6 months duplicated whatever widget you spent tons to develop.

    So even though LG makes great phones, the market is so screwed they can’t sell them for enough to turn a profit.

    Only way to make any legit money is to either saturate and dominate – which is Samsung right now, or race to the bottom, which LG doesn’t want to be known for the cheapest budget phone possible. Apple seems to be the only vendor that can convince people their product is worth more than it really is.

  7. I think LG and or Samsung are missing an real opportunity here. And that is in the Automotive market. What if you went to buy a car… and the head unit was a hotswap device that could be Apple, Samsung, LG, Whomever. The logic is built into the car for it’s oil and other stuff so it can run just fine regardless of what head unit you put into it… but the branded head units you buy at the dealership as part of your car purchase open up other features/abilities. Integrated Sync, better integration, and so on. If I could have a samsung head unit in my car to go with my phone, and earbud, and potentially tablet… that would tie me as a consumer more into the ecosystem and increase my convenience.

    Just a thought I’ve often wondered about. Android Auto/Apple Carplay are good starts.

  8. [QUOTE=”Grimlakin, post: 27985, member: 215″]
    I think LG and or Samsung are missing an real opportunity here. And that is in the Automotive market. What if you went to buy a car… and the head unit was a hotswap device that could be Apple, Samsung, LG, Whomever. The logic is built into the car for it’s oil and other stuff so it can run just fine regardless of what head unit you put into it… but the branded head units you buy at the dealership as part of your car purchase open up other features/abilities. Integrated Sync, better integration, and so on. If I could have a samsung head unit in my car to go with my phone, and earbud, and potentially tablet… that would tie me as a consumer more into the ecosystem and increase my convenience.

    Just a thought I’ve often wondered about. Android Auto/Apple Carplay are good starts.
    [/QUOTE]

    Those do exist – Kenwood / Clarion / Sony / etc still make head units, and many of them are pretty advanced.

    I can remember back in the 90’s – we all swapped out our head units. It wasn’t too bad, pop a couple screws and the factory unit slid out, maybe a fascia bracket for the new unit, and done and done.

    The problem is, in modern cars – try to pull the existing radio out. It’s damn near impossible without replacing all the HVAC, doing something with a touchscreen, replacing the entire middle dash section, etc… and it’s all deeply integrated with the ECM / OBDC

    It can be done, but it’s damn near like doing a brain transplant. That’s why the aftermarket stereo market has pretty well dried up.

    Honestly, I wish I could just slide my phone into a compartment on my truck, and let my phone run it all using the built-in screen as needed. It would keep me from picking up my phone for texts, charge it while I’m on the go, and everything would already be installed/customized per my liking… and when I upgraded my phone – my truck gets the benefit of that moving forward too.

    I don’t know how close Apple CarPlay or Android Auto get to that, I’ve never had a car that supports them.

    But yeah, we won’t do that. A big reason why people replace their cars today is just to upgrade the electronics suites in them.

  9. [QUOTE=”Grimlakin, post: 27985, member: 215″]
    I think LG and or Samsung are missing an real opportunity here. And that is in the Automotive market. What if you went to buy a car… and the head unit was a hotswap device that could be Apple, Samsung, LG, Whomever. The logic is built into the car for it’s oil and other stuff so it can run just fine regardless of what head unit you put into it… but the branded head units you buy at the dealership as part of your car purchase open up other features/abilities. Integrated Sync, better integration, and so on. If I could have a samsung head unit in my car to go with my phone, and earbud, and potentially tablet… that would tie me as a consumer more into the ecosystem and increase my convenience.

    Just a thought I’ve often wondered about. Android Auto/Apple Carplay are good starts.
    [/QUOTE]

    Agreed with this.

    So many modern car touch screen head units are trash. Or are marginally acceptable when the car is new, but a few years later slow to a crawl.

    At the same time we have a well developed and relatively inexpensive (compared to integrated car head units) device market for Android and iOS. it seems completely insane that this modular approach hasn’t been taken yet. Why on earth does every car maker feel the need to develop their own proprietary nonsense that is barely functional when such better options exist in mobile devices?

    As you say, iOS Car Play and Android Auto are a good start I guess, allowing you to partially use your device’s capabilities with that which is built into the car, but it doesn’t go far enough. What is built into the car needs to be modular and completely replaceable with a cross-make standard so that it can be continually upgraded over the life of the car.

    The car can have an amplifier, speakers and microphone inputs, as well as connectors for GPS antennas and the like. Then just have a industry standard connector and 2-3 standard size form factors for a tablet like device that slides/clicks into place in the car, which you can decide when /if you want to upgrade or replace, and can follow you from car to car.

    If you want to integrate other more custom features (HVAC, backup cameras, etc.) just have them interract using standard USB electrically and a custom app downloaded for the make/model of the car. It can even take over as a launcher to give the user the experience that the manufacturer intended.

    That’s the way to do it.

  10. [QUOTE=”Brian_B, post: 27979, member: 96″]
    So even though LG makes great phones, the market is so screwed they can’t sell them for enough to turn a profit.
    [/QUOTE]
    They make quite a raft of disposables too. I get that they’re higher-end stuff is actually higher-end, and if they decided to Nexus them up I’d even consider them, but their low-end units are bad enough to turn buyers away from the brand for phones already.

    That’s what I’m implying with ‘full-Nexus’; top SKU to bottom SKU, same OS, same commitment to keep up with Google on updates, with solid hardware at each pricepoint and rock on. That’ll win them some hearts and minds and maybe some help from Google in terms of refinement or marketing.

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