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LG is done with the yearly smartphone release cycle, CEO confirms

“We will unveil new smartphones when it is needed. But we will not launch it just because other rivals do,” said Cho Seong-jin.

Published onJanuary 11, 2018

  • LG Electronics CEO Cho Sung-jin says the company plans to unveil new smartphones “when it is needed,” rather than to maintain competition with rival devices.
  • LG wants to “retain existing models longer” with the release of additional variants, for example.
  • What this means for the hypothetical LG G7 and LG V40 remains to be seen.

LG is planning a rebrand its flagship G series this year (more on that below), but it looks like the company’s plans might stretch farther and wider than a reshaping of naming conventions. Its mobile division is coming off the back of 10 quarter-on-quarter losses, so now could be a good time for a change.

LG Electronics Vice Chairman and CEO Cho Sung-jin sat down at CES yesterday to discuss, among other things, LG’s future mobile strategy (via The Korea Herald); specifically, when it would reveal its next flagship.

“We will unveil new smartphones when it is needed. But we will not launch it just because other rivals do,” said Cho.

“We plan to retain existing models longer by, for instance, unveiling more variant models of the G series or V series.”

LG has traditionally released devices around the same time as its South Korean rival Samsung, but after beating the Galaxy S8 to launch in 2017 with its LG G6, and still (by all accounts) getting trounced by it in sales, it’s little surprise that this strategy is being rethought. LG might not adhere to a strict yearly release cycle, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t see a new flagship the LG G7 or LG V40 released this year.

Additionally, though Cho referenced the G series in his comments, we can still assume this was for convenience’s sake — a rebrand would still be in line with the other changes in its mobile division strategy.

LG Pay will launch in the US by the first half of 2018

Cho focused on LG’s new approach as something the company could sustain. “We found it is important to retain a good platform for a long [time] and concerns rise over the supply of lithium materials,” he said.

Those may be viable reasons, but LG could just as likely be changing its strategy because its mobile business just isn’t profitable anymore. At the last count, LG’s mobile unit was still responsible for hundreds of millions of lost dollars, and it’s expected to see its 11th quarterly loss in a row in the Q4 2017 earnings announcement coming soon. Retaining a good platform is one thing, but making phones that will sell in astronomical quantities probably wouldn’t hurt either.

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