[THE INVESTOR] LG Electronics' mobile chief Cho Juno on Feb. 26 pledged to go back to basics to turn around the company’s money-losing smartphone business.
“Over the past years, we focused on differentiating ourselves from rivals. But we have realized that most of premium smartphone users just want an easy and simple device to use,” he said in a press conference held in Barcelona ahead of the Mobile World Congress that kicks off on Feb. 27.
“With the G6, we are going back to basics.”
LG Electronics President Cho Juno speaks at an unveiling event of the G6 in Barcelona on Feb. 26.
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The G6 comes after the dismal failure of its predecessor G5, the industry’s first modular smartphone that is accompanied with accessory audio and camera modules. Despite the positive reaction from tech-savvy early adopters, it failed to appeal to mass-market users.
With the G6, Cho said, the Korean tech giant has ditched the tech geeks.
The phone features a sleeker design without no drastic change in hardware functions. The largest-ever 5.7-inch full screen covers almost all part of the front body, with a fingerprint-scanning home button on the back.
Battery, processor and cameras have been upgraded but not drastically. Google Assistant allows users to operate the phone through voice commends even when the screen is not activated.
Below are Cho’s answers to some key questions during the press event.
Q: When is the phone launch and what is its price?
A: The phone will hit the Korean market first on March 10. The price starts at 899,800 won (US$796.85).
Q: Are you confident about a turnaround?
A: We will make new investments for promotional activities in April and May before the phone’s full-scale shipment starts in the third quarter. We need to see the spending and device sales during the period. Sales will be better than those of the G5 or V20. We cannot reveal the sales target.
Q: How do you see the competition with the large-screen V20 in the US?
A: There may be some overlap in sales. But the V series focuses more on multimedia experience such as audio. The G6 will appeal to mass-market users.
Q: Google Assistant offers services in English and German only. When do you plan to launch the Korean service?
A: Our partnership with Google is better than ever. It is too early to say about the Korean service but we hope to launch the Korean service within the year. We will continue to invest in AI, which will become our asset in global competition.
Q: When do you plan to launch the LG Pay?
A: We plan to launch the service in June. Most card companies are joining us. We cannot disclose the details for now. All hardware development has been completed.
Q: Why didn’t you remove the LG logo on the bottom?
A: We conducted surveys in Korea and the US. The US consumers, in particular, showed affection for the logo. So we decided to retain the logo this time. But with the screen getting larger and larger, it is a matter of time before we remove it.
Q: The G5’s failure hit hard the whole mobile business division. What’s your strategy with the G6?
A: Despite the positive reaction, we struggled in early stages due to the low yield rate. We couldn’t ship the phones properly for almost eight weeks. After the delays, all the promotional activities were useless.
But we have learned from the failure, starting preparations for the G6 more than six months earlier than usual. We have also secured enough products to sell this time.
By Lee Ji-yoon (firstname.lastname@example.org)