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LG hopes to sell 30m smartphones in 2011

BARCELONA, Spain (Yonhap News) ― LG Electronics Inc., the world’s besieged No. 3 cell phone maker, aims to more than quadruple its smartphone sales from last year to 30 million units in 2011 in a bid to revive its money-losing mobile business, a company executive said Tuesday.

LG will also lift its overall mobile phone sales by 30 percent to 150 million units, aiming to outnumber the industry’s stagnant growth pace, said Park Jong-seok, president and chief executive of LG’s mobile communications division.

“The 150 million number should represent about 10 percent of the global market share,” Park told reporters on the sidelines of a global mobile fair under way in Barcelona. LG’s 2010 global cell phone market share stood at 8.4 percent, according to International Data Corp (IDC).
Park Jong-seok, president and chief executive of LG’s mobile communications division, addresses a news conference in Barcelona, Spain, Monday.  (Yonhap News)
Park Jong-seok, president and chief executive of LG’s mobile communications division, addresses a news conference in Barcelona, Spain, Monday.  (Yonhap News)

To achieve its goals, LG will release 20 new smartphone models and increase smartphone revenue to half of its total mobile device sales, Park added.

Reinforcing smartphone business is seen as a key to turning around LG’s mobile business, which did not have a premium smartphone lineup in 2010 to compete against the Galaxy S or the iPhone. Market experts said LG wallowed in the success of so-called feature phones, or conventional cell phones without mobile operating systems, too long to read the market’s shift towards advanced phones.

LG’s mobile business lost 274.1 billion won in the October-December quarter in 2010, its third straight quarter of losing money. Park took the helm at the company’s mobile division in October following a management reshuffle.

LG gave a first public look at the Optimus 3D smartphone and the Optimus Pad tablet computer at a four-day mobile fair in Barcelona, Spain, which kicked off on Monday. The 3-D smartphone, the tablet built on Google Inc.’s latest software with 3-D capability and two other high-end Optimus series will put its phone business back on track, Park said.

“The premium three brothers ― 3D, 2X and Black ― have very unique values,” he said. “It is groundbreaking.”

Media response, however, has been tepid. One reporter even questioned Park whether LG’s view on the smartphone market might be “fundamentally wrong.”

LG has been one of the major cell phone makers to which the belated response to the smartphone market really took a toll. Nokia Corp., the world’s largest cell phone maker, announced that it will use Microsoft Corp.’s software as its primary smartphone operating system, a departure from the company’s signature Symbian software.

Nokia’s chief said his company is “on a burning platform,” according to media reports.

LG’s top executive was upbeat about the future and said his team can reclaim the company’s old glory during the feature phone era.

“Our premium image that we built with our feature phones, such as the Chocolate series, Prada’s luxury image ... we will bring that to customers,” Park said.

The lack of 3-D content for mobile phones will not hamper the sales of new smartphones and tablets, despite somewhat lukewarm interest from consumers about 3-D TVs, he added. LG announced a partnership with YouTube for 3-D content.

Park said LG will also continue expanding regular phones with no operating systems and low-end smartphones costing less than $200 for mass markets where it faces stiffer competition from Chinese phone makers.

In 2010, LG’s overall cell phone shipments fell 1 percent from the previous year, while ZTE Corp.’s shipments jumped nearly two-fold as it rose to become the world’s fourth-largest cell phone supplier by shipments, according to IDC. (Yonhap News)
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