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LG Electronics to pull out of smartphone business; LG Uplus opens unmanned store

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In a shocking decision, LG Electronics has decided to close its smartphone production plants and pull out of the smartphone business altogether. Subsequently, the company would not be launching any new smartphone models for the foreseeable future, including its strategic smartphone Rainbow which was supposed to be introduced in the first half of this year.

The company had tried to sell parts of its Mobile Communication Division to a Vietnam based company called Vinh Group and Volkswagen, but the companies failed to come to an agreement. Now that it could not be salvaged, the company has decided to pull out of the launch of the Rainbow smartphone. On the other hand, the fat of the rollable smartphone remains suspended in uncertainty although LG has shown interest in commercializing the smartphone.

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“LG Electronics’ smartphone business has a global market share of around 1 percent. It is difficult to find a buyer who is willing to pay a high price for a company that has such a small global market share,” said an industry insider. The question as to how the company will rebuild itself after discontinuing the manufacturing of its smartphones remains open-ended.

In other news, LG Uplus Corp, a major South Korean Telecom operator apparently has launched its first-ever store that is not manned by retail workers. Other companies have also picked up this strategy to minimize physical contact in the middle of a pandemic outbreak.

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The new LG Uplus unmanned store is in Seoul’s central ward of Jongno that incorporates automation technology which will allow the customers to change their data plans and buy new smartphones or USIM cards without having to seek the assistance of a retail worker working inside the store. Once a customer enters a store, they are given QR codes which can be used to receive their purchases through a storage locker. The store operates with the help of an AI chatbot, but physical customer service is also available during the day.

LG Uplus Corp plans to open more such stores in Busan and Daejeon in the first half of 2021, and in Daegu and Gwangju in the second half.

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