Entered market: 1996
Latest Model: Optimus 3D, Prada 3.0
- Strikes a balance between style and affordability for Android phones
- First to attempt 3D technology
- Devices are slow to upgrade software
- Features and specs tend to be average
- Poor integration between hardware and software
Future plans and developments
LG has departed from the track being taken by its competitors, HTC and Samsung, by narrowing its focus to two lines of Android based smartphones. The Optimus line will boast the latest hardware and features and the Prada line will showcase fashionable design and innovative materials. Expect this focus to narrow further and further, with variations of the Optimus eventually coming together into one do-it-all superphone.
LG’s mobile division is a small part of LG’s overall business, though it still lingers around the Top 5 mobile manufacturers in the world. They enjoyed a great deal of success in Asia and made its first big leap into the Australian market in 2006, with the Prada. The name wasn’t just an homage- Italian fashion house Prada were the co-designers of the handset. The Prada used a very simple but effective user interface that Apple might have “borrowed” – and in fact, LG have chased Apple around in the courts over this.
With the emergence of HTC and Samsung, LG quickly found itself with no advantages. The pioneer of the black rectangle form factor was lost in a sea of black rectangles that could do more and cost less. Market share started to quickly erode, and it now sits near the back of the queue in Australia.
The company stays in business in the featurephone market, where it produces dozens of nice models that fill pre-paid display shelves. They also have a foothold in the space between featurephones and smartphones, with small screens and lightweight versions of Android.
LG sits alongside Motorola and Sony in the 5% “other” sliver of the smartphone market. With their recent Optimus 3D release, LG has tried to differentiate themselves from everyone else. That unique position lasted nearly a month before HTC brought out a competitive, cheaper 3D handset. The Prada 3.0, not yet slated for an Australian release date, is a more interesting development. This update will combine the usual sleek, thoughtful design with an equally minimalist and eye-pleasing build of Android.
Vodafone and Virgin will be happy to offload the LG Optimus One for free on plans starting from as low as $19. The much more exciting Optimus 3D is available for $0 on an Optus $49 plan, on a 24 month contract. This plan includes $750 worth of calls and text, and 2GB of data.
The sale of Motorola’s handset division to Google proved that no-one is safe from becoming trade-bait. The few big tech companies who haven’t yet ventured into mobile phone manufacturing (including Microsoft and Dell) might be casting an eye at LG. Until something else happens, expect them to continue losing market share, even while retaining a decent brand image.