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It’s official: LG is closing down its smartphone business worldwide.
Here’s LG’s full press release sent through last night:
- LG Electronics Inc. (LG) announced that it is closing its mobile business unit. The decision was approved by its board of directors earlier today.
- LG’s strategic decision to exit the incredibly competitive mobile phone sector will enable the company to focus resources in growth areas such as electric vehicle components, connected devices, smart homes, robotics, artificial intelligence and business-to-business solutions, as well as platforms and services.
- Current LG phone inventory will continue to be available for sale. LG will provide service support and software updates for customers of existing mobile products for a period of time which will vary by region. LG will work collaboratively with suppliers and business partners throughout the closure of the mobile phone business. Details related to employment will be determined at the local level.
- Moving forward, LG will continue to leverage its mobile expertise and develop mobility-related technologies such as 6G to help further strengthen competitiveness in other business areas.Core technologies developed during the two decades of LG’s mobile business operations will also be retained and applied to existing and future products.
- The wind down of the mobile phone business is expected to be completed by July 31, although inventory of some existing models may still be available after that.
- LG’s moving on: now focusing on EVs, smart home, AI, and so on.
- It’ll be a wrap on July 31.
- You can still buy some inventory, software updates will continue for an undetermined time.
One interesting wrinkle:
- It seems the chip supply problem facing the industry hurt LG as well.
- From the Nikkei: “Market observers say LG, unlike domestic rival Samsung Electronics, has failed to secure stable chip supplies for its smartphones. The larger and more diverse Samsung has long had an advantage as it also manufactures many key components that go into the phones, such as advanced displays and memory chips.”
- “LG’s lack of an in-house chip supply forced it to battle Chinese smartphone makers such as Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo for technical support and resources.”
What does it mean for you?
- If you already own an LG device, LG’s post around continuing software updates wasn’t exactly super promising.
- According to a machine-translated post made by LG Korea, the Android 11 update is currently in progress for select models, some LG phones will also be upgraded to Android 12, but the major OS update plans depends on Google’s “distribution schedule, product performance, and product stabilization.” As in, if Google makes it hard, maybe LG won’t commit resources? Who knows.
- And a bit more worrying is that LG also plans to continue providing security updates to its phones “but says that it can change its policy at any time in the future”.
- I’d expect some continuing updates through 2021 as existing work is completed but I wouldn’t be too hopeful for updates in 2022 and beyond. And there may be some weird things: LG might update phones in regions like Korea and Europe, but not the US.
- If you’re interested in picking up some of LG’s current models, it’s possible you might start to see big price drops in devices like the LG Wing, the Snapdragon 865-powered LG V60, or LG Velvet, especially on the second-hand markets. Buyer beware, but those devices will stay solid for at least a year or two.
- I’m hearing some people considering getting an older LG phone with DAC to serve as a FLAC player. Hmm.
More: My detailed picture of LG from January this year detailed the hugely profitable LG Corporation, across LG Display, LG Chemical, LG Energy Solution and EV plays, and more.
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