LG Electronics to wind down loss-making mobile division after failing to find a buyer
South Korea’s LG Electronics Inc will wind down its loss-making mobile division after failing to find a buyer, a move that is set to make it the first major smartphone brand to completely withdraw from the market.
Its decision to pull out will leave its 10 per cent share in North America, where it is the No. 3 brand, to be gobbled up by Samsung Electronics and Apple Inc with its domestic rival expected to have the edge.
“In the United States, LG has targeted mid-priced — if not ultra-low — models and that means Samsung, which has more mid-priced product lines than Apple, will be better able to attract LG users,” said Ko Eui-young, an analyst at Hi Investment Securities.
LG’s smartphone division has logged nearly six years of losses totalling some $4.5 billion. Dropping out of the fiercely competitive sector would allow LG to focus on growth areas such as electric vehicle components, connected devices and smart homes, it said in a statement.
In better times, LG was early to market with a number of cellphone innovations, including ultra-wide angle cameras, and at its peak in 2013, it was the world’s third-largest smartphone manufacturer behind Samsung and Apple.
But later, its flagship models suffered from both software and hardware mishaps which combined with slower software updates saw the brand steadily slip in favour. Analysts have also criticised the company for lack of expertise in marketing compared with Chinese rivals.
While other well-known brands such as Nokia, HTC and Blackberry have also fallen from lofty heights, they are yet to disappear completely.
LG’s current global share is only about 2 per cent. It shipped 23 million phones last year which compares with 256 million for Samsung, according to research provider Counterpoint.