LG Electronics Inc., the world's third-largest maker of mobile phones, said Thursday that it expects to sell 24 million smartphones this year, 20 percent fewer than its earlier target, as competition in the lucrative handset market intensifies.
The reduced sales target may complicate LG's efforts to revive its money-losing mobile business, which is expected to report a fifth straight quarterly loss for the April-June period.
"We expected to sell 114 million mobile phones overall this year, and within that number, 24 million units would be smartphones," Park Jong-seok, head of the company's mobile division, told reporters at a media briefing.
Park declined to give a forecast on when the mobile division will be able to swing into the black.
"We sold 49 million mobile phones during the first half of this year, and 10 million of them were smartphones," he added.
Before the advent of smartphones, LG Electronics seemed to be on a solid track to consolidate its top-three position in the wireless market. But while consumers in the advanced market started to flock to feature-packed, touch-based smartphones like Apple Inc.'s iconic iPhone, LG was too slow to release a competitive smartphone model and relied heavily on conventional cell phones with rudimentary functions.
LG conducted a sweeping executive reshuffle in October and beefed up its manpower working on mobile software, to better catch up with Apple, its home-country rival Samsung Electronics Co. and Taiwan-based HTC Corp.
LG said it hopes the Optimus 3D smartphone, which will be its flagship smartphone for the rest of the year, will win consumers with its 3-D features.
LG will start receiving pre-orders for the Optimus 3D smartphone on Friday, before the handset will be exclusively released via South Korea's top mobile carrier, SK Telecom Co., it said in a statement.
The Optimus 3D can play back, record and share 3-D images and 3-D games. Users can upload, download and play back 3-D videos from the world's largest video-sharing site, YouTube, and the company aims to support third-party developers to create new applications with 3-D features.
LG signed a partnership with Gameloft Inc. to preload three 3-D game titles from the New York City-based mobile game developer onto its new smartphone, which would help 3-D features become mainstream in the consumer electronics market, it said.
The 4.3-inch screen of the Optimus 3D gives users the illusion of images popping out of the screen even without wearing special glasses, LG said.
The retail price for the Optimus 3D is 800,000 won ($750), it said. (Yonhap News)