The full closure of the mobile business is expected to be completed by July 31.
The full closure of the mobile business is expected to be completed by July 31. (Photo credit: Reuters)
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.”
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.
End of an era
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.”
LG was always on to something “innovative,” and at one point of time, it had even succeeded in building a very likeable modular phone, aka LG G5, a concept that even Google had failed to crack – only to abandon the project completely later. But even as LG continued on its tryst to make these one-of-their-kind products, rivals, primarily Samsung caught on with competitive yet more accessible devices that started to gradually eat into its share of the flagship market. While in the affordable segment, the likes of Xiaomi challenged it with better prospects of value for money. LG’s phones started to feel like gimmicks amid all this fierce competition while a high price tag associated with them usually barred them from being a recommended buy for most users.
Despite all this, LG did not stop innovating, not even towards the end of its smartphone journey. Only last year, it had launched the Explorer Project in a bid to “breathe new life into what makes a smartphone.” Simply put, it was all about going above and beyond the conventions. The LG Wing was the first smartphone to have come out of that campaign. It offered a new twist on LG’s existing dual-screen concept by adding a secondary display to the phone itself and a swivel mechanism like no other. LG had even brought the phone to India.
It was also working on something even more “outlandish” – a rollable phone that it had teased on multiple occasions, most recently during CES 2021. It is safe to assume that that phone isn’t happening anymore. Still, if one was to talk about its last days as a smartphone maker, it won’t be wrong to say, LG spent it doing what it liked to do best – making smartphones look cool. The LG Wing was a swing and a miss, sure, but it was also peak LG — bold, brave, and different.