BARCEOLONA, Spain – Often viewed as a distant rival to fellow South Korean device powerhouse Samsung, at this week’s Mobile World Congress event LG looked to get out from under the shadow with what it termed three pillars: speed, display and design. However, in a device market where smartphone specifications have become a commodity, those pillars look to miss a fourth leg to success: originality.
As for its plans, LG rolled out a handful of devices sporting multi-core processors, including a device running Nvidia’s latest quad-core processor, screen technologies and sizes that are more tablet than smartphone and a new emphasis on design.
The results of those efforts? Sure, the 1.5 GHz, quad-core processor in the Optimus 4x HD seemed to work smoothly, or at least as smoothly as one would expect in the show booth environment. And success for the screen technologies varied from blurry for its glasses-free 3D model to excellent for showing off fingerprints all over the Optimus 4x HD’s “True HD IPS” 4.7-inch screen. At least the move to a 5-inch screen for its Optimus Vu kept the company in the race for creating devices bridging the gap between smartphones and tablets.
LG’s designs on design were a little more nebulous and filled with marketing speak. The company touted the “modern square style” of its “L” series of devices, which include the L7, L5 and L3. Despite the marketing speak attempt to glorify the basic slab shape that most smartphones have taken, the new devices look like just about every other smartphone currently on the market. The design concept also produced the most awkward marketing speak when an LG spokesman noted the devices included a “soft human touch in the back.”
Also hurting the “wow” factor of some of the devices was the use of the Android 2.3 operating system that while more than adequate seemed to lack the show power of Android 4.0, at least on the specification sheet.
“Last year LG was also first with dual-core smartphones via its Optimus 2x, but an early launch did not help the firm in its handset sales, as LG’s shipment volumes dropped nearly 25% in 2011,” noted IHS in a report. “Like the LG Optimus 4X, many of the other quad-core smartphones to be shown at the Mobile World Congress likewise will feature the latest version of Android, high-end cameras, an HD screen and even the same Nvidia Tegra3 chipset.”
LG did take the chance to tout its intellectual property rights stance in regards to LTE, a move that has become commonplace for companies looking to gain a seat at the table once the IPR lawsuits over the technology hit their stride. That LTE emphasis was also evident in its new devices, which included the high-speed mobile broadband technology.
In a stagnant market LG’s moves would appear ground breaking at the least and worthy of some sunlight. However, in a market where hardware and software specifications are seemingly trumped on a daily basis, the company looked to have missed on a chance to leap its competitors.
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