LG, once a smartphone pioneer, exits mobile phone business

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korean electronics maker LG said Monday it is getting out of its loss-making mobile phone business to focus on electric vehicle components, robotics, artificial intelligence and other products and services.

LG’s board approved the shift in strategy and the company expects to fully exit the mobile phone business by the end of July, it said in a statement.

LG was once the third-largest mobile phone maker but has lost market share to Chinese and other competitors.

It was still No. 3 in North America, with a 13% market share behind Apple’s 39% and Samsung’s 30% as of the third-quarter of 2020, according to Counterpoint Technology Market Research.

LG was known for pushing the envelope with its smartphones. In 2013, it came out with a curved smartphone screen, making it one of the first electronics makers at the time to debut the technology for the mass market.

Two years later, the company wowed experts with the high-end photo-taking capabilities of its LG G4. CNN Business’ former tech editor David Goldman opined it “might be the best smartphone camera on the planet.”

And last year, LG unveiled the WING 5G, a 5G-enabled smartphone that came with two screens. One of the screens could rotate up to 90 degrees, with the aim of letting users toggle different apps at the same time and multitask more easily.

The company’s last big splash came just three months ago, when it revealed a phone that could be rolled up to turn into a tablet.

LG said at the time that the device would launch sometime this year, though the company confirmed to CNN Business on Monday that it won’t now be released.

LG said it was assessing its strategy as it reported that its sales rose 5% from a year earlier in the last quarter of 2020 but profitability declined do to sluggish sales of premium products.

The company said it was selling its phone inventory and would continue to provide services and support for various periods of time depending on where they are sold.

Details related to jobs would be decided “at the local level,” it said.

The company’s shares fell 2.5% on Monday.