LG Electronic Inc, the world's No. 3 mobile phone maker, aims to sell 10 million of its first smartphone, Optimus One, which will be distributed globally through some 120 carriers, as it seeks to turn around the loss-making mobile unit. The South Korean firm, which has no smartphones to yet reach the 1 million-unit sales mark, is betting that booming demand for Google's Android-powered smartphones will help put it firmly back on the recovery path.
LG reported a record loss from handset sales last quarter and warned of a similar loss this quarter, as it failed to introduce a strong smartphone lineup to rival the likes of Apple's iPhone and HTC Corp's EVO. "Optimus One is the result of our efforts to introduce a million-seller product, and for this, some 500 engineers from LG and Google have worked together since late last year," LG said in a statement on Tuesday.
It hopes the new model, along with a new line-up powered by Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 in the fourth quarter, would revive its reputation. But investors are concerned that the new rollouts may come too late with little differentiation factors, when rivals aggressively roll out new products for the crucial year-end holiday period.
UBS forecast last week that LG's handset division will widen losses this quarter and remain in the red until the second quarter of next year. Riding a boom in Android models, Samsung Electronics Co, the world's No.2 handset maker, said this month it expects its smartphone sales will reach up to 25 million units, exceeding an earlier target of 18 million.
Samsung sold more than 3 million of the Galaxy S model, its answer to Apple's iPhone, since its June launch and the 25 million sales figure would lift it to fourth position in the global smartphone rankings -- behind Nokia, RIM and not far behind Apple.
"We plan to introduce full smartphone lineups, ranging from low-end to premium segments by the yearend and aggressively market our products," Skott Ahn, chief executive of LG's mobile division, said in a statement. Optimus One has a 3.2-inch full touch screen and will be available in some 90 countries from October, LG said.