Apple reimagined the smartphone more than 10 years ago, and the iPhone became the new norm for smartphone makers. But very few managed to thrive after the first iPhone rolled out in 2007. Samsung came up with the best approach, and the recipe worked: Copy the iPhone as much as possible while spending tens of billions of dollars on marketing that makes fun of the iPhone.
LG, meanwhile, wasn’t able to replicate Samsung’s success. After so many years making smartphones, including a few more-than-decent Nexus devices for Google, LG appears to be in a dark place right now. Word on the street is that LG’s chief has ordered a revision of the phone intended to compete against the iPhone X and the Galaxy S9, and the handset’s launch has been delayed as a result.
Jo Seong-jin, LG’s vice chairman and CEO, has ordered a revision of the LG G7. According to a company official who spoke to The Korea Herald, the G7 team has been ordered to halt development work and “review” the product “from scratch.” It’s unclear exactly what that means.
The move will push the launch of the phone back to April, which makes this rumor even more confusing. It’s obviously impossible to design a new smartphone from scratch and release it in three months. We’re also not sure what “reviewing” a product from scratch means. The phone was supposed to be unveiled at MWC just like other G-branded handsets in past years. But that’s apparently no longer the case after Jo’s announcement.
“Right after the vice chairman made the announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show last week, a direct order was sent down to the working-level officials to start over,” the LG official said. “A new decision on a possible launch date will be released around the Lunar New Year holiday next month.”
“We will unveil new smartphones when it is needed,” Jo said at CES during a press conference. “But we will not launch it just because other rivals do.”
That doesn’t sound bad strategy at all. Maybe someone should go back to early 2017 and tell LG to revise the G6, which was a missed opportunity last year. In a hurry to take advantage of the Galaxy S8’s absence from MWC, LG came to the show with a 2017 flagship that packed a processor from 2016.
Ultimately, the G6 was a failure. Per The Herald, LG’s smartphone unit has posted 11 straight quarters of losses, including all of 2017. LG’s CEO also said he’s considering retaining existing models longer, and even changing the company’s flagship branding.
The LG G7 should feature an all-screen design and a dual camera module on the front, which would make iris scanning possible. But the official said there’s internal speculation that “the company hasn’t been able to find a strong selling point for the G7 smartphone.” This was also the case with last year’s G6, which had no selling points to differentiate it from Samsung’s flagship phones.
The V-series that LG usually launches in the second half of the year may also be impacted by Jo’s comments.
An LG spokesperson said Jo’s message at CES was that the company is simply looking for new marketing strategies for launches, and nothing has been set in stone. That said, it seems unlikely that we’ll see the G7, or whatever LG ends up calling it, at MWC next month.