LG (Mobile) was once one of the most important players in the smartphone business, and one of the companies with the highest market share out there. That hasn't been the case for quite some time now, though, LG's mobile unit is not doing particularly well. Based on the company's report which surfaced back in January, LG Mobile posted only one quarter of profitability since Q1 2015, the company managed to be profitable in Q1 2017 thanks to the LG G6 sales, but two years before that, and since then, it has been facing losses, which is quite disappointing. Since Q1 2015, the company has released quite a few devices, including a couple of its flagship offerings, but despite trying to sway consumers with various different approaches, the company was unable to turn things around and get back to profitability, nor climb the ladder when it comes to market share, as LG was not among the top players for quite some time now.
Now, LG Electronics, as a whole, is doing really well, but our focus here is its mobile unit. According to Statista's info, LG had managed to sell 13.9 million smartphones in the fourth quarter of last year, 55.7 million smartphones in 2017 overall. The company is nowhere near IDC's top 5 smartphone manufacturers in terms of market share or shipments either, as Xiaomi is fifth-placed on that list (based on info for 2017 as a whole), and the company managed to ship 92.4 million smartphones, which is almost twice as much as LG. Now, Samsung, Apple, Huawei, and OPPO, which are the top four smartphone manufacturers according to IDC, shipped more than twice as many smartphones as LG in 2017, 317.3, 215.8, 153.1, and 111.8 million handsets, respectively. So, as you can see, LG is currently standing pretty far away in terms of smartphone sales, while the company's flagship units that got announced in the last couple of years didn't help the company all that much. The LG G4, G5, G6, V10, V20, and V30 did not have a significant impact on the company's sales, at least if we look at LG's shipments as a whole, as we do not have separate info for each of those phones.
Over the years, LG has been trying to get back on the right path, as the company's G, G2, and G3 handsets were quite popular back in the day. Same goes for the company's entry-level and mid-range lineups as well, as sales haven't exactly been great in that regard as well, as China has provided plenty of competition, especially Huawei, Xiaomi, OPPO and Vivo, which are constantly improving their position. So, what went wrong for LG? Is there something the company can do to get back on the right path and avoid HTC's fate? Well, there is always a chance, but LG has to go all-in, make the right moves, and hope that everything goes its way. The company would have to spend quite a bit of cash into the endeavor, and no one guarantees that it will pay off. Truth be told, LG does seem a bit lost at the moment, their LG G7 handset is expected to arrive in the near future, but it will probably land later than usual, as LG Mobile's new CEO ordered a revamp of its design. The company also announced the LG V30S ThinQ handset at MWC 2018, and that phone is almost identical to the LG V30 which was announced last year.
So, where did LG make the wrong turn? It's hard to say, but a combination of competition from China, Samsung's right moves, poor marketing, and a lack of right ideas over the years definitely hurt the company. On top of all that, LG's smartphones don't really have the best reputation in some circles, as they are well-known for their mainboard and bootloop issues, at least some previous phones had such issues. I have personally experienced some of those problems, as both my LG G3 and LG Nexus 5X died issues with the mainboard, the G3 at a 2-year mark, while the LG Nexus 5X's mainboard called it quits after about 15 months. My colleague and a childhood friend had similar issues, one with the mainboard, the other with the display, in both cases I'm referring to Nexus 5X units. So, all in all, LG has had its issues, and if on top of all that, we add the company's UI, things are definitely not looking good for LG. LG's UI is a lot better than it was before, but it's still not as buttery smooth as it should be, though truth be said, many would say the same for Samsung's Experience UI. In any case, the point is, LG has to improve in a number of ways if it wants to get back in the game, for starters, it needs to pour a lot of cash in marketing, offer innovative features and phones to users, and try to keep up with other OEMs when it comes to releasing top-of-the-line handsets. Same actually goes for the company's entry-level and mid-range lineups, as the competition offers better-specced phones at lower prices.
The LG G5 was a completely wrong turn for LG, while the company completely changed things with the LG G6, a phone which was actually praised by some. The LG V30 is a nice-looking smartphone, but it resembles the competition quite a bit, and even though it offers top-of-the-line cameras, many would argue it came too late, as it took LG quite some time to release it after it was announced. Speaking of too late, the same goes for LG G6, the phone did arrive in time, but with a wrong SoC, it shipped with the Snapdragon 821, when the Snapdragon 835 was already available in the market, and already grabbed by LG's competition. All in all, it remains to be seen what will the LG G7 bring to the table, same goes for the LG V40, or whatever LG ends up naming those two handsets this year. Also, we'll see if LG will make any changes as far as its marketing is concerned, and also its more affordable handsets, as changes are necessary throughout the company's lineup.