LG smartphones are no more, as the Korean company announced Monday (April 5) that it will be shutting down its mobile phone business. The move, OK'd by the electronics giant's board of directors, ends months of speculation about the fate of LG smartphones.
LG devices won't immediately disappear from store shelves; instead, the company plans to let current supplies dwindle without replacing any inventory. Existing LG phones will continue to receive support, with the exact length of that support to vary based on region.
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In the U.S., LG tells us that it plans to honor the standard limited warranties that came with the company's phones and tablets. That means it will provide service parts through the end of that warranty or longer if that's required by the state where you live. LG says it will provide additional after-sales support for certain models. Additionally, LG is honoring any extended warranties for customers who've registered their eligible device.
As for OS upgrades, LG says that will depend on which models, with more details to come.
Also up in the air is what happens to devices on the drawing board for LG but not yet in stores. We're thinking specifically of the LG Rollable, a phone with an expandable screen that LG showed off at this year's CES trade show. LG had announced plans to ship its rollable phone this year, but obviously that launch is now scrapped. We're still waiting to hear if LG will spin off that product line to a competitor — none of that was really addressed in the LG statement announcing the closure of the phone business.
"Core technologies developed during the two decades of LG’s mobile business operations will also be retained and applied to existing and future products," was all the company said in its statement announcing the mobile business closure.
LG says it plans to finish winding down its involvement with smartphones by July 31.
It's not hard to figure out why LG is exiting the smartphone business. The business was a money-loser for LG as it never could emerge from the shadow cast by leading players Apple and Samsung, nor could it stave off increased competition from Chinese phone makers like Huawei and Oppo.
We spoke to Tuong Nguyen, a senior principal analyst at Gartner last week when the LG mobile business shutdown was still a rumor. Nguyen noted that even at LG's peak, the company had less than a 10% share of the global smartphone market. As of the end of 2020, that had dipped to 2%.
With LG pulling resources from smartphone development, the company says it will instead focus on electric vehicle parts, connected devices, smart homes, robotics, AI, and business-facing products. Its mobile efforts going forward will include work with technologies related to the development of 6G wireless networking.