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Microsoft, LGE may hold talks on smartphones

Steve Ballmer is highly likely to meet Koo Bon-joon during visit to Seoul this month: sources

Eyes are on the possibility of Microsoft’s chief executive Steve Ballmer holding a meeting with the chief of LG Electronics, as the U.S. software giant chief is expected to visit Seoul this month.

Industry sources said Ballmer is likely to engage in business meetings with local industry representatives, including LG and its platform developers, as he is coming to speak at the Seoul Digital Forum on May 22.

“Ballmer, who will speak about the ‘new era of technology,’ will be staying for a day in Seoul,” said a Microsoft Korea spokesperson Lee Seung-yeon. “We, however, don’t have the fixed details of his business meeting schedule as of now.”

An LG spokesman also said it is yet unaware of the meeting.

Ballmer’s visit takes place shortly after LG Electronics’ executive said during an earnings conference session last week that the company is planning to focus on smartphones running on Google’s Android mobile operating system.

The executive also said LG is taking a step back from Windows phones powered by Microsoft’s platform, adding that it will “continue research and development efforts” on Windows Phones.

“The total unit of Windows Phone sold in the global market is not a meaningful figure,” said the LG spokesman, further elaborating that it currently has no plans of rolling out another LG-manufactured Windows phone soon.

LG has maintained a good relationship with Microsoft with the country’s IT behemoth selecting Windows as its primary smartphone platform when LG’s then-chief executive Nam Yong was in office a few years back.

Announcing the expansion of their alliance to widely increase the figure of LG handsets running on the Windows OS, the two signed an agreement which would tenfold increase in Windows phone volume available in 2009 and present up to 26 new Windows phone this year alone.

“The Windows platform brings flexible and customer-friendly software that ties into the Web and the PC, giving our phones a wide range of new capabilities to address an increasing number of segments and markets,” said Nam.

The decision, however, was detrimental for LG which was once the world’s No. 3 handset maker, weakening its smartphone lineup.

As its mobile business unit’s performance failed to meet expectations, it recorded operating losses for seven consecutive quarters, with it jumping back into the black in the final quarter of last year thanks to its increasing sales of Android-based smartphones operating on the fourth generation Long Term Evolution network.

In the meantime, its rival Samsung Electronics, which also experienced difficulty in smartphone sales with the release of Apple’s iPhone, became the top smartphone manufacturer in sales volume with plans to roll out the new Galaxy S3 this month.

LG’s sluggish smartphone sales are somewhat in accordance with the market share of Microsoft’s Windows Phones.

According to Lee of Microsoft Korea, Windows Phones took up less than 2 percent of the global smartphone market share, which explains why its CEO Ballmer left out the latest details on it during the company’s earnings call earlier last month.

Claiming that the firm is “working to bring Windows Phone to more people,” he noted that Microsoft remains pleased with its Nokia partnership.

By Cho Ji-hyun


마이크로소프트-LG전자 수장 내달 만남 가능성 점쳐져

마이크로소프트의 최고경영자인 스티브 발머가 다음 달 서울을 방문 할 예정으로 알려진 가운데 LG전자와의 만남이 성사될 가능성이 점쳐지고 있다.

업계에 따르면 다음 달 22일에 열리는 서울디지털포럼의 주요연사로 초빙된 발머 MS 최고경영자는 LG전자를 포함한 주요 업계 관계자들과 만남을 가질 확률이 높다. 그는 22일 오전 포럼에서 ‘기술 그리고 더 나은 사회를 위한 기회들’ 이라는 주제로 연설을 할 계획이다.

이에 대해 한국마이크로소프트 (MS) 관계자는 발머 최고경영자가 “22일 하루동안 서울에서 머무를 예정”이지만 “현재 비즈니스 일정은 확정된 것이 없다”고 했다.

LG전자 관계자 또한 이에 대해 확정된 것이 없다고 했다.

양사간의 만남이 성사될 경우 이는 LG전자가 MS의 윈도폰에 당분간 집중 할 계획이 없음을 밝힌 뒤라 주목된다.

LG전자는 지난 주에 열린 1분기 경영 실적설명회에서 “OS전략은 (구글의) 안드로이드에 집중 할 계획”이며 “윈도우는 R&D 역량을 가지고 준비해나가는 전략”을 가지고 진행할 것이라고 말했다.

이와 관련해 LG전자 관계자는 LG의 윈도폰 총 글로벌 판매수량은 “의미 있는 숫자가 아닐 것 같다”며 향후 윈도폰 출시 계획에 대해서는 “들어본 적 없다”고 했다.

LG전자는 과거 남용 CEO 시절에 윈도폰을 스마트폰의 우선적인 플랫폼으로 선택하며 MS와 우호적인 관계를 유지했었다.

양사는 전략적 협력관계를 확대할 것을 선언하며 2012년에는 최대 26개 종류의 새로운 윈도폰을 출시할 것이라는 계획도 공개한 바 있다.

하지만 이 같은 결정은 과거 글로벌 3위 휴대폰 제조업체였던 LG전자에게 스마트폰 라인업 약화라는 돌이킬 수 없는 결과를 초래했다.

한국마이크로소프트 관계자에 따르면 MS의 윈도폰은 글로벌 시장점유율이 2퍼센트가 채 안 된다고 한다.

LG전자 모바일 부문은 그 이후로 7분기 연속 적자를 기록했고 지난 4분기 구글의 안드로이드 운영체제를 기반으로 한 LTE폰이 효자 노릇을 하며 흑자전환에 성공했다.

이에 반해, 삼성전자는 지난 1분기 4450만대의 스마트폰을 판매하며 판매량 기준으로 글로벌 1위 스마트폰 제조업체로서 부상을 했다.

(코리아헤럴드 조지현기자)

Korea Herald daum