(dpa) – After weeks of rumours, LG has confirmed that its struggling line of smartphones has come to an end.
The news comes just months after the South Korean manufacturer once again turned heads with an innovative flagship phone, a remarkable two-screen device with a display that could flip sideways.
But last year’s weird and wonderful twisting LG Wing – which let you rotate the main screen to reveal a smaller, additional screen underneath for multitasking – wasn’t enough to save the brand.
Meanwhile its V range of phones, which aimed to stand out with professional photography and video options, failed to compete with rivals like Samsung’s Galaxy series and the iPhone.
The electronics manufacturer’s board of directors approved the move to close the company’s loss-making mobile phone business on Monday, LG Electronics said in a statement released in Seoul, leaving Samsung as the only household smartphone brand from South Korea.
“Pour one out for LG Mobile,” tweeted leading tech YouTuber Marques Brownlee. “They’re the reason we have ultrawides in every new phone right now,” he said, paying tribute to the brand’s pioneering decision to go for a taller, more narrow aspect ratio.
For consumers, the disappearance of LG as a smartphone brand increases the likelihood of your next phone coming from a Chinese manufacturer.
LG’s exit comes as Oppo, Xiaomi, Huawei, Vivo and other Chinese brands are gaining in international recognition by matching Samsung and Apple in smartphone price and quality.
The absence of LG phones potentially also means less bold, if quirky, phone features in future, of which the recent LG Wing was a prime example.
“They didn’t always ace every phone, but losing them means losing a competitor that was willing to try new things, even when they didn’t work,” Brownlee writes.
Among the smartphone innovations some have attributed to LG are the double-tap to wake, more manual camera mode options and the removal of physical buttons on the front of the phone to give more space for screen.
Despite years of innovation, LG’s withdrawal from the smartphone business had been on the horizon for some time. The division has shown an operating loss in every quarter since the second quarter of 2015.
The company’s share of the smartphone market in South Korea had already fallen amid rumours of a possible withdrawal, according to Yonhap, citing market researcher Counterpoint Research. In January and February, LG’s share fell to 10 per cent.
The shutdown of LG’s mobile phone sector is expected to be completed by the end of July.
However, devices in stock will still be offered for sale, LG said, adding that it would also continue to support phone services and provide software updates for its customers.
“LG’s strategic decision to exit the incredibly competitive mobile phone sector will enable the company to focus resources in growth areas such as electric vehicle components, connected devices, smart homes, robotics, artificial intelligence and business-to-business solutions, as well as platforms and services,” LG’s statement said.
LG wants to “continue to leverage its mobile expertise and develop mobility-related technologies such as 6G to help further strengthen competitiveness in other business areas.”
Core technologies developed during the two decades of LG’s mobile business operations are to be retained and applied to existing and future products, the company said.