I always try to understand why the smartphone market is so unique in the way its market share behaves. If you look at the automobile industry, surely there are top players, and surely there are companies that are having a hard time economically, but there’s also a group of players that don’t lead, don’t lose, and simply compete in a way that allows them to keep going. They have their own loyal customers, and in some cases, they even lead sales in certain states for many reasons that aren’t worth mentioning here. Smartphones don’t behave that way. There are either winners or losers, and those that lose do so terribly.
At the moment, the smartphone market share is dominated by two companies, which are Apple and Samsung. And I guess the reason why I make the analogy to the automobile industry, is because it’s far more expensive to buy a car, than to buy a smartphone, and yet people generally stick to either an iPhone or a Galaxy S smartphone almost exclusively, where in the other industry, you’ll see as many Hyundai vehicles on the road as you’ll see Toyotas, even if we know Toyota sells more.
Explaining why such disparity in consumer behavior is a tough endeavor. Most of these reasons have to do with marketing, product availability, distribution, and the new kid on the block – ecosystem. Notice that I never mentioned quality. If I compared an HTC One or a Nokia Lumia 1020 to an iPhone, I could give you a ton of reasons why both are superior in quality to an iPhone, and yet, the public’s top of mind starts with an “i” or ends with an “s”.
LG just launched their new flagship, the LG G2. A smartphone which I personally like in aesthetics, and which I feel is superior to almost every other smartphone in the market to date. Sadly, as the title of this editorial affirms, LG wants to be a top player in the smartphone industry, and given the fact that this has historically been dominated by two or three companies, there are a ton of reasons why I feel that today’s announcement won’t be enough, and here’s why:
The problem is not the G2, but LG
Can you imagine this phone being launched by Samsung? Imagine a 5.2-inch IPS display being powered by a Snapdragon 800 processor, and enough RAM, Storage and Battery to keep you happy. Would you buy it? I’m sure you will, but not necessarily because of the phone, since hey, if we compared the Galaxy S 4 to other flagships, there’s nothing really better about the S 4. You’re doing it because you trust Samsung.
The problem with the G2 is really its parent company. Don’t get me wrong, I have three LG TVs in my house that I love to death, and I love the displays on almost every Apple product that I own, which if you didn’t know, are all manufactured by LG. Sadly, LG’s reputation in the smartphone market is a different story. As I said in today’s Editorial Roundtable, I sometimes feel like if the Hardware department and the Software department don’t get along. Here we have a very beautifully designed phone, but the fact that LG’s Android implementations have always been clunky, or the fact that many people that own an Optimus G are still running Ice Cream Sandwich, makes me want to look elsewhere.
Sadly, LG has a terrible reputation when it comes to software. I’m not saying that they haven’t figured it out with the G2, since I haven’t personally tested the phone. I’m saying that their reputation still needs to improve in order for me to give the LG G3 a fair chance for consideration. For the record, I felt the same about Sony, and their 2013 smartphone line-up has proven that I can trust them in 2014 when it comes to software, so it’s still anybody’s game for LG here.
The G2 is a “Me too” phone sadly
Now speaking of the phone, we have a saying in Spanish, which states: “You can load a piece of paper with anything you want”. The spec sheet on this phone is amazing, but that’s truly irrelevant if the software isn’t ready to take advantage of it. We’ve had our fair share of great smartphones go through our labs that perform terribly because their software implementations aren’t that good.
That being said, and assuming that LG did figure this out, I guess the only problem left with the G2 is that it’s just a “Me too” phone. Surely it’s got more horsepower than everything out there, but unlike devices that don’t share this same power like the Moto X, at least the Moto X has things to stand it apart from competition. Am I supposed to consider buttons at the back to be something innovative? Sadly that’s a subjective answer that you and I may or may not agree on.
Commenters on YouTube kept mocking the fact that they still couldn’t figure out what LG meant when they stated that the phone “Learned from you”. This statement alone is a tall order in today’s smartphone industry. Companies should be more careful in the things they promise, because they risk being mocked when what they end-up offering doesn’t deliver.
The bottom line
I hate to be harsh with LG. Like every company, they deserve a second chance. I wish there was something so hot about this G2 that I’d be willing to walk to a store to check out. Sadly there isn’t. There isn’t even a reason to wait for it, if a Galaxy S 4 can already solve your needs without so much horsepower. Unless you’re a die-hard LG fan, it’s hard for me to sit here and convince you to buy this phone, because well, it’s a cool device, but there’s nothing hot about it.
What do you think of the LG G2? Are you excited or disappointed? Do you agree with my thoughts, or disagree? Please share your thoughts in the comments.