Can LG pick up where HTC left off?

Chase Bonar
 from Winter Springs, FL
Published: February 7, 2013

The most exciting news in mobile has been centered around the same players as of late. Rumors of the HTC M7, Samsung Galaxy S IV, and the potential for Apple to announce more than one smartphone are justified but redundant. Of the three names just mentioned, there's one manufacturer who has little to prove but everything to gain. And based on last year's success, I'd say LG is more than capable of taking some of the spotlight away from the big names in mobile.

In fact, LG and HTC have more in common than what first meets the eye.

LG would argue that they're in the same league as Apple, Samsung, and even HTC, but the fact is they've had a very tough time entering the premium smartphone market. Whether it was LG's lackluster devices, slow updates, or recent manufacturing woes with the Nexus 4, we have had time to wonder just what LG needs to do to get going here in the states. If there ever was a time to capitalize on a moderately successful product like the LG Optimus G, it was yesterday for the winking South Korean company.

Though LG had a relatively successful year in 2012, they weren't under as much scrutiny as HTC. In fact, very little news about the Taiwanese company was positive. Even CEO Peter Chou admits they've come up short. But for all the gripes against HTC's marketing and release strategy in the states they've still managed to sell devices. Though second-tier manufacturers like Huawei and LG have tried to grab some market share in the states, the latter has clearly had more success infiltrating the market even if we haven't noticed.

LG was one of only three other manufacturers who showed positive growth in total smartphone subscribers in Q4 of 2012. HTC and Motorola were the only two companies to show a decline in subscriptions. The fact that LG was alongside Apple and Samsung must be worth something for the South Korean tech giant.

But it's going to take more than just a premium device and some moderate growth to grab our attention. Having said this, it's far from impossible for LG to steal the spotlight from their competitors if they can get a few things right and acknowledge their missteps.

First, they need to launch the same device with the same stellar hardware across all carriers. This should sound familiar if you read Taylor Martin's recent editorial about the HTC M7. However, where HTC's popularity and fall from relevance has caught them off guard, LG should be able to capitalize on their up-swing with the success of the Optimus G.

Not only does LG need to launch a similar (if not the same) device across multiple carriers, they need to market their brand. LG has proven to have a competitive track record in the field of customer satisfaction. In fact, our friends at DroidDog recently reported that LG was third to only Apple and Samsung in the Consumer Loyalty Engagement Index smartphone category. HTC was down in sixth place behind Nokia, Sony, and Motorola. Simply put, LG is the best of the rest in terms of customer satisfaction. This is the type of news LG should be marketing. 

Another area where LG can surprise is in their stateside launch of their next flagship. Those on AT&T received a one-off version of the Optimus G with a dulled-down camera. But those on Sprint received the same device as the international customers. This is a similar strategy that HTC used in 2012 with the One X, except they favored AT&T. LG is fully capable of capitalizing on the lost momentum of HTC if they can launch a single device across all carriers.

Secondly, if LG wishes to remain relevant and associated with premium devices, they'll need to take risks. You need only look back six months to the stateside launch of the LG Optimus G to see that LG is aggressive (and borderline irrational) with their launch strategies. The Optimus G was their most successful launch in the Optimus line despite it launching in the same month as the iPhone 5. Why they chose to announce it at the same time as Apple did is beyond me. Regardless, it was far from a failure. Though they only recently announced sales surpassing the one million mark, that's a million devices less than Apple and Samsung could sell.

With LG's recent outing of the image above on their Facebook page they've got very little to prove. Not much can be drawn from the image regarding potential devices, but the text says we should expect a new series. This isn't too exciting considering LG has had mediocre (at best) success with their L-Series handsets.

Let's say they do refresh their L-Series. This would only be LG's stab at marketing their mid-range handsets as a competitor to Samsung's Galaxy S II, Apple's iPhone 4S, and HTC's soon-to-be defunct One S.

More exciting is the potential for the Optimus G's successor which NTT DoComo leaked a few weeks ago. The LG Optimus G Pro/Optimus G2 will feature a 5-inch 1920x1080 IPS LCD display with Zero Gap Touch tech, a quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro APQ8064 processor clocked at 1.7GHz, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, 32GB of storage, a MicroSD card slot, 2GB of RAM, a massive 3,000mAh battery, a 13.2MP camera around back and 2.4MP camera on the front.

If there's any reason to be excited about LG's recent announcement on Facebook, it's the potential for this device. Not only does it pack a battery just 100mAh smaller than Samsung's phablet Galaxy Note II, the seemingly edge-to-edge display looks set to be a stunner. It's also quite the looker if you dig physical buttons and a svelte profile.

Aside from the Optimus G, the Nexus 4 stole the hearts of many Android purists with their slam dunk combination of premium hardware, vanilla software, and an unbelievable price tag. If there's anything we've learned from LG this past year, it's that they are fully capable of delivering on the fronts of premium build quality and specifications. In 2012, Google believed in LG which is why I believe they'll be able to continue this momentum through 2013.

Reader! What do you think of LG's recent success with the Optimus G? Do you think it will be enough to convince consumers that its successor is a better alternative to whatever HTC cooks up? Are you excited for the LG Optimus G Pro? Having owned the Sprint variant of the Optimus G, I can honestly say this device has big shoes to fill...maybe too big. Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Update: Click here for LG's latest teaser video.