LG: Smartphone Makers Are Afraid of Innovation

By Aatif Sulleyman on at

South Korean firm LG has been basking in the limelight this week, with praise for its radically different new flagship still coming in thick and fast. In case you don’t know what all the fuss is about, the freshly-launched LG G5 features a unique connection -- which definitely, definitely isn’t called the ‘magic slot’ -- which you can use to attach a number of accessories to the handset. It’s pretty clever.

It's got people thinking, why are rival firms, such as Samsung and Apple, happy to roll out incremental updates and specs boosts on an annual basis, when it’s clear that consumers are looking for something different? According to LG global communications director Ken Hong, it all boils down to fear.

“Everybody wants to go in a different direction but nobody wants to be the one that makes the first step,” he told us. “It’s the same thing we’ve seen with OLED. We really invested in OLED TVs. It was scary because, if you’re wrong, it ruins your R&D for four or five years.”

Hong believes that LG’s rivals will be silently thanking the company for what it’s done with the G5. “They'll be saying, ‘Now we can try something different,’” he said. “A huge amount of pressure is off.”

However, he doesn’t believe that we’ll see copycat devices for a while yet, at least from major companies. The G5 has taken three years to develop, and Hong is confident that the only outfits that might be able to produce something that works in a similar manner to the G5 in the near future are no-name Chinese manufacturers.

“Unless they knew of this three years ago, they’re going to have a lot of work to do,” said Hong of the likes of Samsung and Apple. “The development of the G5 started three years ago. It’s fine, we still have a three-year headstart.” May the race begin.