News Column

LG plots return to smartphone market

February 7, 2014

By Suchit Leesa-nguansuk, Bangkok Post, Thailand

Feb. 07--LG Electronics (Thailand) vows to make a comeback in the local smartphone market this year after undergoing a major internal restructuring and policy revamp over eight months.

The South Korean firm plans to roll out its new low-cost smartphones priced at 2,000 baht by June to capitalise on increasing migration from second-generation (2G) to 3G wireless broadband services.

Anuphun Bhakdisuparit, the head of mobile communications products at the Thai unit, believes major mobile operators will be gearing up to migrate their 2G customers to 3G networks this year after they completed nationwide 3G network expansion.

The three operators ? Advanced Info Service, Total Access Communication and True Move ? announced they will migrate a combined 33 million 2G users to 3G networks this year, of which AIS aims to attract up to 15 million users.

Mr Anuphun said at least 90% of the country's mobile phone sales this year will come from smartphones, some 18 million units, up from 70% in 2013. Most smartphone demand stems from 3G migration.

The remaining 10% of handset sales will be feature phones.

The local handset industry is facing the same fate as other retail sectors as mobile phone sales last December dropped by almost 10% because of the ongoing political unrest.

Mr Anuphun said LG aims to grab a 10% share in the local smartphone market by 2015, up from nearly zero now.

"We expect our handset sales to increase by at least 40% this year, compared with 12% growth last year," said Mr Anuphun

He said despite the country's political impasse, Thailand is one of LG's two emerging growth market opportunities in Asean apart from Indonesia thanks to intense 3G competition and the proliferation of smartphones.

LG will focus on the high-end smartphone market in Thailand the first half of this year, with products priced from 17,000 to 20,000 baht. At least six smartphones models priced from 7,000 to 10,000 baht will also be offered this year.

It expects to launch the LG G Flex smartphone next month, touted as the world's first curved-screen handset. The phone has a six-inch high-definition curved screen, targeting early smartphone adopters. Pre-booking will be offered at the Thailand Mobile Expo, scheduled to be held next week.


(c)2014 the Bangkok Post (Bangkok, Thailand)

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Source: Bangkok Post (Thailand)

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