LG plays smartphone catch-up

LG’s mobile phone division has just had one of those good news-bad news quarters – it sold a record 32 million handsets, but its margin fell four points to just under 9%.
The result also highlighted the company’s weakness in smartphones, where its shipments of Windows Mobile devices are a rounding error on sales charts.
LG has just launched its first Android phone, the GW620, in Europe and will start selling it in Asia by Christmas.
CEO Yong Nam told a US audience yesterday that the company was “investing heavily” in smart devices.
Ma Chang Min, an LG vice president, admitted to telecomseurope in Hong Kong that “the smartphone is one area where we need to catch up.”
LG will continue to build models based on Windows Mobile, with several new devices due out by the end of the year and more in 2010. Ma said LG would produce at least one Android phone next year.
He also conceded the company was a “bit behind” in the app store market, where it launched in Asia with 1,400 WinMo titles in July. 
“The name of the game is scale. We will try to collaborate with the best people. We have humungous resources and technology and manufacturing experience,” he said.
In the low-end handset segment, LG sees the opportunity in Asian emerging markets. In countries such as China, Indonesia and India, the retail channel was critical, but LG had “weak” retail reach, Ma said.
“We are not really good at emerging markets now, which gives us a lot of opportunity. We can do much, much better.”
Ma is in Hong Kong for the global launch today of the latest in LG’s popular Chocolate phone series – the LG BL40, a sleek touchscreen with extra screen real estate for web browsing.

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