LG Becomes First Major Smartphone Brand to Withdraw from Market Due to Losses
LG on Monday said it was closing its mobile business unit worldwide. This will enable the South Korean electronics giant to focus on growth areas including “electric vehicle components, connected devices, smart homes, robotics, artificial intelligence and business-to-business solutions, as well as platforms and services.”
According to The Financial Express, existing phones will remain on sale and LG has confirmed it will continue to provide service support and software updates to products “for a period of time which will vary by region.” There is no word on any potential layoffs at this point of time except “details related to employment will be determined at the local level.” The full closure of the mobile business is expected to be completed by July 31.
Rumours that LG has been looking to get out of the “incredibly competitive mobile phone sector” have been going around since January this year. It is said to have considered all means from a potential sale to downsizing. A Korea Herald report said in January that LG CEO Kwon Bong-Seok had informed all employees about the company’s “cold judgment” of exiting the smartphone market owing to recurring losses amounting to nearly $4.5 billion in the last five years. The company is said to have been relocating its staff – to the tune of 60 per cent – to other business units leading into today’s announcement.
LG’s contribution to the smartphone industry has been immense. It has been a pioneer in making smartphones look cool, a little quirky even, but all in all, it has helped move the industry forward through breakthrough products that made nuances like ultra-wide-angle cameras and high-quality audio centerpieces in the whole mobile experience, something that many rivals have taken inspiration from. But perhaps LG’s biggest contribution to the mobile space has been its relentless pursuit to build, “the next big thing.”
In 2013, LG was the world’s third-largest smartphone manufacturer behind Samsung and Apple. But later, its flagship models suffered from both software and hardware mishaps, and rivals, primarily Samsung, caught on with competitive yet more accessible devices that started to gradually eat into its share of the flagship market. Currently, the global share of LG’s mobile division is only about 2 percent.