LG Electronics used to be a top player in the U.S. market, but its star has been eclipsed by Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Samsung Electronics, HTC and others as the smartphone race has heated up. Now, however, the company is plotting a comeback via its partnership with AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) to sell its high-end Optimus G Pro smartphone this month.
AT&T will exclusively sell the Android gadget for $200 with a two-year contract starting May 10. The gadget represents the latest high-end offering from LG, building on the company's Optimus G, launched late last year through AT&T and Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S), and the Nexus 4 for T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS).
The Optimus G Pro "is the first step in this resurgence of our brand around the world, and especially in mobile," James Fishler, head of marketing for LG's U.S. division, told CNET.
LG shipped a record 10.3 million smartphones in the first quarter, making it the world's third largest smartphone vendor, according to IDC. According to ABI Research, LG was the world's fifth largest handset maker by market share in the fourth quarter.
LG has performed better overseas than in the United States, but Fishler told CNET that the original Optimum G sales met the company's expectations, which is why AT&T agreed to sign on for the G Pro. The Optimus G Pro competes more in the phablet category than in traditional smartphones, thanks to its 5.5-inch 1080p HD display, putting it up against Samsung's Galaxy Note II. The Optimus G Pro runs on Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean and sports a Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) Snapdragon 1.7-GHz quad-core processor and a 13-megapixel, rear-facing full-HD camera.
For LG the challenge will be differentiating its wares. One of the unique software features of the Optimus G Pro is called "QSlide apps," which, according to The Verge, are widgets that hover over open apps and let users complete two tasks at the same time--for example, users can text and watch a video simultaneously, thus making use of the device's larger screen.
Jeff Howard, AT&T's executive director of devices, told CNET that the Optimus G Pro will be marketed differently than a normal phone, but he declined to provide specifics or details, noting only that retail sales representatives will demonstrate the phone's features "in an interactive way."
- see this AT&T release
- see this CNET article
- see this The Verge article
- see this LA Times article
LG ships record 10.3M smartphones in Q1
LG plans up to 600 new retail stores to goose smartphone sales
Samsung to open 1,400 mini-stores within Best Buys, challenging Apple
LG expands Optimus lineup, emphasizes LTE devices
LG rides high in Q4 with a 23% bump in smartphone sales
Huawei, ZTE blast LG, HTC, Nokia and others out of global smartphone rankings