Once fierce rivals, Samsung and LG are truly worlds apart nowadays. To the point that this might be our last such comparison in a while because frankly, LG currently doesn’t deserve to be in the same sentence as Samsung. At least not in consumer electronics.
Believe it or not, LG released more than two dozen Android smartphones over the course of this year. This amounts to about half of Samsung’s 2020 output, model-wise. In terms of commercial performance, while Samsung is expected to hit around 260 million handset shipments this year, LG will be lucky if it reaches one-tenth of that figure. At this rate, the Galaxy M series alone might outgrow LG’s entire mobile business by the end of 2021.
How long can LG continue burning money on failed smartphones?
Nothing illustrates this fall from grace better than LG’s best attempt at a 2020 flagship – the LG Wing 5G. In case you’ve missed this pioneering work of art, let it be known that this is not a drill: the LG Wing 5G is a real product with a real target audience. Or so its makers claim.
In reality, the LG Wing 5G is what happens when you gut your marketing department and force your designers to either come up with a device that somehow advertises itself or not bother coming up with anything, at all. The LG Wing 5G was relatively successful at generating word-of-mouth buzz, but hardly for the right reasons, given its poor commercial reception. Not to mention that the very existence of this device clearly indicates LG still isn’t ready to follow Samsung’s lead in the foldable smartphone sphere.
At the same time, Samsung is preparing to quite literally double down on this emerging market with the third generation of its foldable devices. And while both the Galaxy Z Fold 2 and Galaxy Z Flip have a lot of room for improvement, it’s obvious their creators at least tried to design them with concrete use cases in mind. Which is a lesson LG has yet to learn.
Whether that state of affairs changes in 2021 seems unimportant. Because it’s been years since LG last managed to deliver a well-rounded, commercially successful smartphone. The last such device was probably the 2014 G3 series. It’s hence frivolous to expect it to change course now, all the while pioneering an entirely new form factor. Especially as it wasted yet another year putting out a bunch of duds.
And so, Samsung’s rival is pretty much guaranteed to post its 22nd consecutive quarterly loss in the mobile segment come early next year. How long can this ship continue sinking remains to be seen, though it appears some downsizing has already begun. Namely, it would appear LG has at least given up on the tablet market, seeing how it hasn’t released a single slate this year. Its last Android tablet was the elegantly named LG G Pad 5 10.1, which launched in November of 2019.
You make your own luck
While LG is likely to spend 2021 on yet another wave of unsuccessful attempts at reviving its mobile business, Samsung made plans to momentarily make up for a lackluster 2020. Well, lackluster by its own standards.
Things haven’t been as one-sided in the TV space, though that’s not saying much. Particularly since Samsung’s Tizen is now the largest smart TV platform in the world. In terms of revenue, Samsung dwarfed LG’s TV business by a factor of three in the previous quarter.
The reasons for that growing gap are multifold, but it all starts with initiative and attitude. After all, Samsung pretty much told us this would happen back in spring. And LG’s nervous reaction to the coronavirus crisis made its rival look even bolder in comparison.
Overall, it’s hard to say whether LG is even trying nowadays. But with Huawei out of the picture and Apple still kind of doing its own thing, we can’t help but hope for a miraculous resurgence from this struggling chaebol. Because Samsung sure is getting cozy.