LG pins hopes on G6 smartphone

LG Electronics Vice Chairman Jo Seong-jin, second from left, looks at the firm’s new flagship G6 smartphone at a company booth set up at this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain, Feb. 28 (local time). / Courtesy of LG Electronics

By Lee Min-hyung

LG Electronics is pinning its hopes on its new flagship smartphone, the G6, with its pre-orders hitting a record high over favorable reactions from customers.

The company said Thursday more than 80,000 local customers pre-ordered the new 5.7-inch handset, largely due to word of mouth on its comfortable grip combined with large screen and camera features.

The company believes the “back-to-basics” approach has generated a better-than-expected outcome for the new device, whereas eye-catching interchangeable modules bundled with its predecessor, the G5, failed to attract enough orders despite the wow factor.

LG remains desperate for the success of the device at a critical time when its mobile unit is suffering deficits due to the continuously lukewarm market responses for its previous devices, the G5 and the G4.

The G6 is the first device launched after LG Electronics Vice Chairman Jo Seong-jin was promoted as the firm’s sole chief last December, replacing the previous triple-CEO structure.

Jo has spent most of his time following the promotion reviving the struggling mobile unit.

“We should not endeavor to create innovation on purpose, which ends up causing troubles,” he said during a press conference last week, held on the sidelines of this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona.

“LG should, instead, pursue innovation from normal and common features,” he said. “We are going to shift our focus onto basic values such as stability and quality. This is because the global handset industry has reached the saturation point and it is tough among existing and new players to drive innovation.”

At that time, Jo and LG Electronics’ mobile chief Cho Juno expressed optimism in a potential rebound, despite the unit’s operating loss of 63.3 billion won ($55.8 million) last year.

Cho remained cautious to unveil the estimated turnaround timing, but the company believes if the positive market response lasts for months to come, the firm will be able to rebound in the second half of the year.

At this year’s MWC, the company monopolized the spotlight because of the absence of Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy upcoming flagship S8 smartphone, which will be unveiled later this month.

“The G6 is the first premium smartphone released this year,” an LG Electronics official said. “The device earned explosive responses at the MWC, winning a total of 31 awards, the most among participants in the mobile show. We are confident the G6 will become a grand slam for this year’s premium handset industry.”

Despite the fact the company is losing ground to Chinese rivals in the global smartphone industry, it has fared well in lucrative markets including Korea and the United States.

In particular, the company remains one of the “top three” smartphone vendors in the U.S., along with Apple and Samsung Electronics.

Starting in 2015, the outfit diversified its flagship lineup into two by releasing the G series in the first half of each year, and the V lineup in the latter half. In October 2015, the firm’s first V series, the V10, hit a sales record of 450,000 in the month following its U.S. release.

The company plans to focus on the two markets and then expand its sales channels into other Asian and Middle Eastern countries.

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