Come on, LG - where's your fighting spirit?
9th Aug 2013 | 13:30
You've launched a phone! Woohoo! Now launch one people will want
It's not often you'll hear me gushingly praise a product – and I'm not going to do it here. But I'm going to give credit where credit is due: well done, LG – you've announced another product that I can't see many people caring about at all.
I feel bad saying that. I really do. It's like I'm kicking a puppy or stealing a baby's rattle. Poor LG – mind you, I say 'poor' making it sound hard done by, when it's actually one of Asia's biggest corporations – it just can't seem to get it right.
It's not that the brand spanking new LG G2 is a bad product – it's not. It's bloody brilliant. But first impressions are, it's just not brilliant enough. And it already feels brand spanking old.
Sure, we have some standout features here that do seem pretty innovative – like the buttons being on the back of the device. This makes so much sense when you think about it.
And of course, people use their phones as music players, so why wouldn't they include an amazing audio experience? While items like the full HD screen with almost no bezel are great, just not new – and that's what we're craving.
Lack of trust
My problem is this: I just don't trust LG. I don't have the confidence because there have been too many me-too devices out there.
Last year, I reviewed the Optimus 4X HD, but what should have been an amazing device just left me feeling like I was playing with a poor man's Galaxy S2.
And this was more than a year after said Samsung device had been released. Playing catchup isn't a good look.
For a while, about seven or eight years back, LG was really heading somewhere. Remember the LG Chocolate? Aside from the crap name, this was a handset you could do business with.
Nothing particularly noteworthy, but still, those touch-screen buttons were the nearest we had to revolutionary in a market that seemed so lacklustre.
LG was on fire – the Shine and the Viewty came next, and while neither was the biggest seller, once again it was all about innovation. They were different. As was the Chocolate BL40. And that's what we like.
When we first held an iPhone, we had that 'wow' moment – this was something so totally different from what we were used to – and although LG was preceding that, it was a similar emotion on a smaller scale. LG – you could have trashed Samsung. You were in the lead but you blew it.
That's not to say Samsung is this angelic company that sets the world on fire with its innovation. Sure, the Galaxy S4 is a great device – but ultimately, there's little there that we haven't seen before elsewhere.
Yet Samsung seems to have something that LG doesn't in the mobile industry: hunger. For all of LG's whining about wanting to compete in the market space and promising to try harder, it keeps on arriving to the party with a bottle of champagne, when the music's already stopped playing and people are heading home, battered.
You have to wonder whether there is room for LG in the smartphone area now, or at least in the area it's targeting. A few years back, maybe there was. But that place the G2 is aiming at – that sweet higher end spot – is occupied already, by Apple, Samsung, HTC and Sony.
Maybe LG could diversify a little bit. Find a new angle on the market and make it its own as everyone is clamouring for a slice of the pie.
I'm thinking wearable technology. You know, everyone's talking about it – Apple is on it, Samsung, Google... they're all in development, but they're doing it as a sideline whilst concentrating on their own phone lines.
Or could LG really work hard on a specific area of the market that is relatively under-represented? Something like the teen market or the pensioner end.
It doesn't have to do this forever, but enough to give it a solid grounding in the UK and, more importantly, have its products prominently displayed and actively recommended to people by the main stores who currently sell the others.
LG needs to build up awareness and it needs to build up trust. People need to think of it as a company that makes great phones. Not a company that makes TVs and is having a go at mobiles too.
Ultimately, LG may not care that much – after all, the UK is small fry compared to the US or the Asian markets. But therein lies the problem – if it doesn't care, then the punters won't care. It's a vicious circle. It's one LG needs to break.
I've reviewed dozens of phones and tablets for TechRadar over the years – each time putting them through their paces in the most unbiased, rigorous way possible. But as well as being a professional, I have a love/hate relationship with tech, and that's what these columns are all about: the passionate howlings of a true fanboy. Tell me why I'm right, wrong or a hopeless idiot in the comments below or by tweeting@techradaror@phillavelle.