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LG smart appliances attract crowds

LG Electronics, the world’s leading household appliance maker, is poised to push up the quality of appliances by several notches with the introduction of savvier smart appliances.

“Smart appliance” has become one of the industry’s new buzzwords, quickly picking up on the growing demand from consumers to live smarter and more economically at not just the office, but at home.

LG Electronics, as the industry leader, has been leading the smart campaign, starting with its launch of the smart refrigerator in April.

LG’s new fridges started selling before Samsung Electronics entered the market. Samsung says it plans to launch smart refrigerators before the year is out. 
Models introduce LG Electronics’ smart refrigerator during a launching event. (LG Electronics)
Models introduce LG Electronics’ smart refrigerator during a launching event. (LG Electronics)

At 4 million won ($3,680), LG’s smart refrigerators are about 15 percent more expensive than other non-smart, high-end refrigerators.

But despite the hefty price tag, the company sold more than 200 units within about two months of its launch.

This is because the new refrigerators offer consumers not only convenient features such as recipes for the groceries in the fridge and their expiry dates, but also help conserve energy.

The refrigerators do this by operating on conserve-mode when the LG smart server indicates when electricity prices are the highest.

LG noted that consumers are becoming increasingly keen on electricity bills as, starting in July, they will be billed according to which time slots they use electricity.

Encouraged by the refrigerator sales, the company plans to quickly introduce the smart appliance lineups it has been preparing, such as smart washing machines, ovens and robot vacuum cleaners ― indicating automatic cleaners that run on their own to tidy rooms.

The washing machines will be unveiled during third quarter of this year, while the ovens and robot cleaners will be launched in the fourth quarter.

Other more creative smart appliances that can be connected to each other for a bigger synergy effect will be available after 2012, LG officials said.

LG Electronics also promises that prices will be tamed next year to make them more affordable for a bigger crowd.

“For this year, we will be focusing on high-end smart refrigerators, but next year, we plan on making them available to more consumers by bringing the prices down,” said Lee Young-ha, head of LG Electronics Home Appliance division.

LG ― and also top industry researchers ― believe there is definitely a market for smart appliances.

Pike Research earlier predicted that the smart appliance market would grow to as much as 6 trillion won ($5.4 billion) by 2015.

The research firm also said “smart appliance market is on the cusp of transitioning from the development state to commercialization and growth.”

By Kim Ji-hyun (jemmie@heraldcorp.com)
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