LG quitting the smartphone business it helped pioneer

“Moving forward, LG will continue to leverage its mobile expertise and develop mobility-related technologies such as 6G to help further strengthen competitiveness in other business areas,” the South Korean company said Monday in a statement.

As the company winds down its smartphone business, LG said it will continue to provide service support and software updates for customers who already own existing handsets for a period of time, but did not specify exact dates. The company also did not elaborate on potential layoffs as a result of the shutdown, stating only that, “Details related to employment will be determined at the local level.”

LG said it expects to exit the mobile phone businesses by the end of July, but customers may be able to find existing models for sale after that.

LG had planned to pull its smartphone business into profitability this year. In January at CES, the tech industry’s biggest showcase, the company showed off the concept for a new model with a rollable screen, in which the display expands into a small tablet. The flashy innovation was seen as a response to Samsung’s foldable phones. But LG’s mobile wind down puts an end to the rollable lineup.

The announcement comes as loyal customers of another legacy smartphone brand are awaiting a revival of sorts. Texas start-up OnwardMobility will license the BlackBerry brand for a new device expected this year that will run on Android and tout the trademark physical keyboard.

BlackBerry drew widespread attention earlier this year as investors scrambled to buy a collection of stocks, including GameStop and AMC, that were championed on trading forums and recorded enormous run-ups in price. While BlackBerry shares have plummeted from their $25 high in January, the company is still trading at more than twice its value compared with last year, at about $8.

In recent years, smartphone manufacturers have confronted shifting habits from their customers, as people hold onto their costly devices for longer rather than indulge on the latest upgrade. Adding to the competition for smartphone purchases, Chinese manufactures including Xiaomi and Oppo have continued to gain traction with consumers, claiming roughly 11 percent and 8 percent of the global market in 2020, respectively, according to Gartner.

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