Архив метки: LG

LG’s smartphone sales dropped another 21%

Let’s start with the good news. LG actually had a pretty good quarter (on the strength of appliance sales). The LG Home Appliance & Air Solution division made $5.23 billion for Q2. Anyone who’s been following the company for the past several years can guess where the bad news comes.
Smartphone sales dipped 21.3% year over year for the South Korean company. The culprits are as you’d expect: an overall slowing of the smartphone market, coupled with aggressive undercutting from Chinese manufacturers. Huawei seems to lead the pack on that front, with a big increase in sales, in spite of a confluence of external factors.

LG Mobile’s losses continue but now sales are falling too

The smartphone unit saw an operating loss of $268.4 million, in spite of a 6.8% increase in sales from the quarter prior. LG chalks up the loss to higher marketing on new models and April’s move from Seoul to Vietnam for smartphone production for longer-term cost cutting.

LG gets a 5G flagship, making the world’s longest phone name even longer

In spite of this, the company says it’s still bullish about smartphone sales for Q3. “The introduction of competitive mass-tier smartphones and growing demand for 5G products are expected to contribute to improved performance in the third quarter,” it writes in an earnings release.
LG is, of course, among the first companies to release a 5G handset, with the V50 ThinQ. The next-gen wireless technology is expected to increase stagnating global smartphone sales, though much of that will depend on the speed with which carriers are able to roll it out. It seems unlikely that 5G in and of itself will be a quick or even longer-term fix for a struggling category.

LG’s smartphone sales dropped another 21%

Once a major name in smartphones, LG Mobile is now irrelevant — and still losing money

LG was once a stalwart of the smartphone industry — remember its collaboration with Facebook back in the day? — but today the company is swiftly descending into irrelevance.
The latest proof is LG’s Q1 financials, released this week, which show that its mobile division grossed just KRW 1.51 trillion ($1.34 billion) in sales for the quarter. That’s down 30% year-on-year and the lowest income for LG Mobile for at least the last eight years. We searched back eight years to Q1 2011 — before that LG was hit and miss with releasing specific financial figures for its divisions.
To give an indication of its decline, LG shipped more than 15 million phones in Q4 2015 when its revenue was 3.78 trillion RKW, or $3.26 billion. That’s 2.5 times higher than this recent Q1 2019 period.
Regular readers will be aware that LG mobile is a loss-making division. That’s the reason its activities — and consequently sales — have scaled down in recent years. But the losses are still coming.

LG put Brian Kwon, who leads its lucrative Home Entertainment business, in charge of its mobile division last November and his task remains ongoing, it appears.
LG Mobile recorded a loss of 203.5 billion KRW ($181.05 million) for Q1 which it described as “narrowed.”
It is true that LG Mobile’s Q1 loss is lower than the 322.3 billion KRW ($289.8 million) loss it carded in the previous quarter, but it is wider than one year previous. Indeed, the mobile division lost 136.1 billion KRW ($126.85 million) in Q1 2018.
LG said Mr. Kwon is presiding over “a revised smartphone launch strategy,” which is why the numbers are changing so drastically. Going forward, it said that the launch of its G7 ThinQ flagship phone and a new upgrade center — first announced last year — are in the immediate pipeline, but it is hard to see how any of this will reverse the downward trend.
LG Mobile is increasingly problematic because the parent company is seeing success in other areas, but that’s being countered by a poor-performing smartphone business. Last quarter, mobile dragged LG to its first quarterly loss in two years, for example.
Just looking at the Q1 numbers, LG’s overall profit was 900.6 billion KRW ($801.25 million) thanks to its home appliance business ($647.3 million profit) and that home entertainment business, which had a profit of $308.27 million. Its automotive business — which is, among other things, focused on EVs — did bite into the profits, but that is at least a business that is going places.

Once a major name in smartphones, LG Mobile is now irrelevant — and still losing money

LG’s latest flagship uses your hand veins to unlock

We’ve already known about the G8 ThinQ for some months now. And a few weeks back, LG made the whole camera rig official, announcing that the handset would be getting a ToF image sensor on its front-facing camera, bring, among other things, advanced face unlock technology.
The company did manage to save a few tricks for the product announcement, including a strange little biometric addition. LG says the phone’s Hand ID tech is the first to use “advanced palm vein authentication” — which could well be accurate. Certainly it’s not a mainstream feature yet.

And I’ll give it to LG, Hand ID is a much catchier name than “palm vein unlock,” which is one of the creepier sounding smartphone features in recent memories. Still, the underlying technology is actually pretty cool here, once you’re down shuddering from how weird the whole thing is on the face of it.
From the company’s press materials, “LG’s Hand ID identifies owners by recognizing the shape, thickness and other individual characteristics of the veins in the palms of their hands.” It turns out, like faces and fingerprints, everyone’s got a unique set of hand veins, so once registered, you can just however your hot blue blood tubes over the handset to quickly unlock in a few seconds.

The Z camera also does depth-sensing face unlock that’s a lot harder to spoof than the kind found on other Android handsets. LG’s also put the tech to use for a set of Air Motion gestures, which allow for hands-free interaction with various apps like the camera (selfies) and music (volume control).
I played around with the feature, and if I’m being totally honest, it takes some getting used to. You’ve got to train yourself to get things just right, which could well dissuade most users from any sort of long-term adoption of features that can pretty quickly with accomplished with a tap.

Other notable features for the new flagship include a 6.1 QHD+ OLED display and a new video portrait mode, which lets users adjust bokeh on the fly.
The handset will hit the States “in the coming weeks.” Pricing is still TBD, but I anticipate that it will cost around the same a previous LG flagships.

LG’s latest flagship uses your hand veins to unlock

What to expect from Mobile World Congress 2019

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: 2019 just might be the year that smartphones get fun again. After years of similar form factors and slight upgrades, the mobile industry’s back is against the wall.
For the first time ever, sales are down, owning to economic factors and slower upgrade cycles. Most people who want good phones have had access to them for a while, and smartphone makers are providing fewer compelling reasons to buy new ones.
With their backs against the wall, handset makers are getting creative. We’ve already seen some early fruits from companies late last year and last month at CES. But MWC is really going to be their time to shine. It’s a much larger mobile show, and all parties know that everyone’s bringing the big guns.
Here’s what we expect to see in Barcelona February 24-28.

Huawei: The company looks to have a lot on tap for the event — in part because the North America-based CES is kind of a non-starter. CEO Richard Yu has hinted at a foldable and a 5G handset — which could well be the same phone. More mainstream are the P30 and P30 Pro. The company’s done a good job keeping it under wraps, but rumors about three or four rear-lenses have made the rounds.

LG: As is its move, LG has already announced the G8 ThinQ. We know that the new flagship will feature a front-facing camera with Time of Flight sensor that brings potential tricks like face unlock, along with AR applications. The V50 is also reportedly on tap, potentially bringing 5G along for the ride.

Microsoft: A surprise addition to this year’s show, Microsoft’s already announced an event for February 24, where we expect the company will show off the HoloLens 2. The next-gen version of the headset will arrive as the rest of the hardware and software world is finally ready to embrace augmented reality in earnest.

Motorola: The recent launch of the G7 may have taken the wind out of MWC’s sails, but rumors of a foldable Razr reboot are making the rounds.

OnePlus: We know that a 5G handset and the OnePlus 7 are both in the pipeline — and, perhaps, one and the same? There’s also tell of a closed-door event at the show, but most aren’t expecting any big unveils from the company.

Samsung: Don’t expect a ton out of Samsung this year. The company (inconveniently) is holding its big event a mere days before. Expect the S10 and all its iterations to get a big unveil that week in San Francisco, along with a preview of the company’s upcoming foldable. That doesn’t leave a heck of a lot for MWC, but perhaps we’ll get a peek into the world of wearables or PCs.
Sony: While Xperia phones have long felt like a bit of a loss leader, the electronics giant has always made a big show of launching flagship devices. Those, in turn, have long been a launchpad for some exciting camera tricks. This year, the Xperia XZ4 appears to be on tap for the event. The handset looks to be an interesting one, with a reported 21:9 aspect ratio display and a beefy 4,400 mAh battery.

What to expect from Mobile World Congress 2019

Smartphones are about to get more interesting, but is it enough to drive growth?

Smartphone numbers are down. In 2018, global shipments dropped 3 percent, and while the long-promised arrival of 5G will help numbers get back into the black, IDC predicts that even then growth will be in the low-single digits.
With a few exceptions, handset makers are starting to feel the pain of stagnation, due to a confluence of different forces. There’s slowed economic growth in China and internationally, prolonged upgrade cycles and price hikes as tariffs are levied amid a looming trade war.
For many consumers, however, it comes down to one simple thing: most phones today are already quite good and manufacturers are offering fewer compelling reasons to upgrade every one to two years. Unlike many of the aforementioned external factors, this is something phone makers can actually do something about.
Of course, this could be the year that changes that. After years of minor upgrades, far-off concept designs and being backed into a corner by diminishing returns, handset makers are coming out swinging. Less than a month in, 2019 is already shaping up to be one of the most innovative years for smartphones in recent memory.
Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi and Royole all have folding phones in the works, and Motorola may be joining their ranks with a new Razr. Google, meanwhile, has promised to support the new wave of foldables with updates to Android. 5G phones are set to start trickling in this year, as well.
This week we saw a pair of handsets from Meizu and Vivo that take advantage of a handful of trends (wireless charging, Bluetooth headphones, etc.) to offer handsets fully devoid of ports. And then there’s whatever this LG thing is.

Not all are great or guaranteed hits, but with Mobile World Congress just over a month out, it already seems safe to declare that 2019 will be a good year for intriguing devices and concepts. Sales have been flagging, so companies are scrambling to stand out — heck, even HTC is going all-in on crypto with the Exodus One.
All of this should serve to make my job more interesting. But will far out concepts really drive growth? Foldables are already proving to be something of a mixed bag. Take Royole, which contorted its way into the spotlight by being the first company to make the long-promised folding screen a reality. The product ultimately left something to be desired. Early glimpses at devices like the dual-folding Xiaomi, however, have offered hope for the space’s potential.
5G, meanwhile, is going to have trouble living up to its own prolonged hype cycle. Those who pay attention to the industry have been hearing about its unlimited potential for years. The mainstream media has picked up on it in the intervening months, courtesy of CES and promises from handset makers and carriers alike.
But carriers have already done a lot to cloud the definition of 5G — take AT&T’s 5G Evolution. The carrier calls it its “first step on the road to 5G,” when really it’s more of a souped-up LTE. It has led to a whole lot of snipping between carriers, further muddying the waters for an already nebulous technology. There will be a number of 5G devices on the market before year’s end, but actually getting 5G coverage with your carrier in your city is another issue entirely.

Price will also be major a factor. Companies like OnePlus have shown just how good inexpensive handsets can be, all while prices have continued to rise on flagships. Models from Samsung and Apple now regularly start around $1,000, and the average price for a foldable looks like it will be more in the neighborhood of $1,500. At that price, it’s going to be difficult to attract anyone beyond early adopters with money to burn. Real mainstream adoption is going to require lower price points and a genuinely useful feature set that expands the products beyond sheer novelty.
The mobile industry is at a crossroads. It has hit maturation and, in some markets, saturation. 2019 will be a key year in determining the fate of the smartphone going forward, whether this space continues to have life in it, or if the stagnation will continue while we wait for the next big thing in consumer electronics.

Smartphones are about to get more interesting, but is it enough to drive growth?