Ken Hon, LG: “The arms race among smartphone makers will end soon”

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At MWC 2013 we met with the Director of Corporate Communications of LG ElectronicsKen Hong

(Ken Hong)and did a short interview with him, in which Mr.Hong expressed his views on current trends in the mobile industry. The most interesting, from our point of view, statements you will find in this short material.

About the arms race
Today all Android smartphone manufacturersplaying an arms race. Everyone strives to announce a product that will be at least slightly ahead of competitors in terms of characteristics: screen diagonal, processor frequency or camera resolution. This race will soon end because it cannot be maintained at the same pace indefinitely. It will be the same as with cameras: manufacturers stopped the megapixel race and focused on things like autofocus or quality of shooting in the dark. In smartphones, ultimately everything will be decided by the interface, and by interface I mean not so much the shell (it can be easily replaced with another), but rather deeper things specific to a particular manufacturer.

About the number of announcements
It seems to me that manufacturers are gradually moving away fromin order to announce dozens of phones every year. Personally, I like the scheme when we announce two line updates per year for different market segments.

About shells
It's always very funny when someone says:“I hate such and such a shell because it is slow and inconvenient.” This is Android, it allows you to install the shell that you like! No one forces you to use what the manufacturer preinstalled on your smartphone. They also often write on forums that because of shells, manufacturers release new firmware for smartphones once a year. In fact, porting the shell from one version of Android to another is only a very small part of the work involved in preparing the update. That is, people have no idea about the current state of affairs and invent their own theories.

About updates
The vast majority of usersFirmware updates are simply not needed. Buyers are interested in what a smartphone can do now, not what it can do in the future. A minority is interested in updates, but this minority shouts the loudest. Therefore, manufacturers update firmware so as not to create a bad reputation for themselves.

About Windows Phone
We don't see much demand for Windows smartphones.As you remember, LG was the first company to introduce Windows Phone in Europe, but today we are not needed there, since Nokia has completely occupied this niche. And if you look at Nokia, they have a big problem: they can't compete with Apple and Samsung at the top end of the market, not because they have bad phones, but because users who are willing to buy high-end Windows smartphones Phone is not interesting. Although I personally hope that Nokia will succeed: the market could really use another strong player.

About batteries
We conducted a study and found out that forFor users, battery capacity is more important than the thickness of the phone. No one sees the difference between a phone with a thickness of 8 and 9 mm, but this difference allows you to use a more capacious battery and increase the battery life of your smartphone by one and a half times.

About cameras
Now all companies are striving to make 8-, 12-,13 megapixel camera on the phone. I think this will end someday. Who needs 13 megapixels if the camera can't take decent quality photos indoors? Hopefully we'll soon see larger sensors in phone cameras.

About screens
Screen quality is very important.A good screen attracts impulse buys and makes the phone stand out in the store window. That's why we now use IPS panels even in entry-level phones like the Optimus L3 II.

About design
Many people think that Optimus G Pro is similar toSamsung Galaxy Note. Therefore, I could not help but ask our designers a question about this as soon as I had the opportunity. They explained to me that today there are few opportunities to create a unique design. All smartphones are essentially the same: they all have a large screen, control keys on the side and below the screen, and a camera on the back. In this situation it is difficult to come up with something original.

About choosing
Unlike, say, HTC, we don't focus ourefforts only at the top end of the market. Of course, the high-end segment is very important, there are good margins, but sales volumes are relatively small. We strive to give users choice across all segments. If you look at, say, our F-series and L-series smartphones, you will notice that they offer very balanced specs in the mid-range and low-end segments respectively.

P. S.Ken Hong uses two phones: Optimus G (Korean version with LTE and DMB support) with native firmware and Optimus 2X (European version) with CyanogenMod firmware.