|Kwon Bong-seok, president of LG Electronics, speaks during a press conference at the LG Science Park in Seoul, Friday. / Courtesy of LG Electronics
By Baek Byung-yeul
LG Electronics is seeking a rebound in the struggling smartphone business by focusing on phones using fifth-generation (5G) network service, the tech firm's head said Friday.
The plan comes as the firm will introduce 5G smartphones during the upcoming Mobile World Congress (MWC) fair in Barcelona.
For its smartphone business, LG said it will take a two-track strategy as it will use its V-series smartphones for its premium 5G smartphone brand while G-series smartphones will remain part of the LTE brand.
LG has introduced the G-series smartphones in the first half of the year while launching the V-series phones in the latter half. However, the firm said it will unveil the V50 ThinQ 5G and G8 ThinQ smartphones at the same time at the MWC scheduled to be held from Feb. 25 to 28.
"The latest V-series smartphone, which will be released between March and April, will be run on 5G and the G-series smartphone will become a premium LTE smartphone brand," Kwon Bong-seok, LG's president and head of the mobile communications (MC) division and home entertainment (HE) division, said during a press conference at the LG Science Park in Seoul.
While he has been serving as head of LG's TV business, he was appointed to a dual role in the MC division in Nov. 2018 to bring changes to its struggling smartphone business.
LG's smartphone business has been losing money. The MC division continued to run a deficit for 15 straight quarters as of the fourth quarter of 2018. Overall, the division logged an operating deficit of 322.2 billion won ($286 million) due to sluggish sales and increased marketing costs.
Kwon said the 5G smartphone will be a chance to regain its market share.
"LG has achieved technological innovation in the smartphone business for years but also witnessed market failure. As there is a market expectation that 5G network will become an opportunity to grow the smartphone business, we will try to release a higher quality 5G smartphone to lead the market," he said.
While the firm's competitors such as Samsung Electronics and Huawei are set to introduce a foldable smartphone, Kwon said it would be premature to release it now.
"During the Consumer Electronics Show in January, LG introduced a rollable TV. This is an advanced technology one step ahead of foldable technology. We have reviewed releasing the foldable smartphone when launching 5G smartphone but decided not to produce it," Kwon said.
"The market demand for smartphones is expected to be at around 1 million but LG's main issue in smartphone business is to regain its market position. Considering this situation, it is too early for LG to launch a foldable smartphone. In terms of technology, we are fully ready to respond depending on consumers' reactions (to foldable smartphones)."