LG Electronics may stop with annual Android smartphone releases as part of a wider effort to change its approach to the mobile market, the company's Vice Chairman Cho Sung-jin said earlier this week at CES 2018. While the South Korean tech giant always followed set timelines for new handset launches, that strategy is now shifting to only releasing new products when doing so "is needed," and providing more support to existing devices, Mr. Cho said at a press conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. The comment was made in response to a question about the planned availability of the LG G7, the firm's next Android flagship whose lineup is expected to be at least partially rebranded later this year. Despite quoting concerns about the weakening global supply of lithium, a key component in smartphone batteries, some industry watchers believe LG wouldn't be rethinking its approach to smartphones if its current endeavors in the segment weren't on the brink of staying deep in the red for three years in a row.
While the Seoul-based original equipment manufacturer isn't giving up on smartphones, it's still unclear how radical its new strategy change actually is, especially since the company's CES 2018 appearance also led to a confirmation that the successor to the LG G6 is already on the way, with the firm even specifically disclosing one of its main selling points – support for Qualcomm's Quick Charge 4.0 technology. Regardless of the severity of LG's downsizing efforts in the mobile segment, Mr. Cho's comments are widely interpreted as only being indicative of the company's plans for premium Android devices such as its G and V lineups. With entry-level and mid-range offerings from LG still performing reasonably well, the OEM isn't likely to reduce its focus on the non-flagship smartphone segment, especially as creating value-oriented devices represents a significantly smaller financial commitment and — therefore — business risk.
LG's mobile unit is expected to post its 11th consecutive loss as part of the tech giant's consolidated financial report for the final quarter of 2017 scheduled to be released in late January. "We plan to retain existing models longer," Mr. Cho said during the CES 2018 conference, specifically mentioning the G and V series as two product families that LG is seeking to refresh with new variants and keep regularly updated longer than its previous high-end devices were. The LG G7 was widely expected to be introduced in late February at Barcelona, Spain-based MWC 2018, though it's currently unclear whether the company's latest comments on the matter are indicative of a later launch.