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LG is getting out of the smartphone business

For all its might in other industries, LG was never much of a player in mobile.

LG Wing

The Wing was one of LG's recent out-there new phone ideas ... and now it is no longer.

Photo: LG

After years of trying and failing to keep up with Samsung, Apple, Huawei and the rest of the high-end smartphone market, LG announced that it is finally throwing in the towel. "LG's strategic decision to exit the incredibly competitive mobile phone sector will enable the company to focus resources in growth areas such as electric vehicle components, connected devices, smart homes, robotics, artificial intelligence and business-to-business solutions, as well as platforms and services," the company said in a statement.

LG reportedly tried to sell the business to Vingroup, the Vietnamese tech giant, but Reuters said the deal fell apart "due to differences about terms."

For all its might in other industries, LG was never much of a player in mobile. It bet on Windows Mobile when the rest of the industry was starting to figure out Android, and then spent much of the last decade trying to leverage splashy features and unusual software to give it an edge. Recently it had been working on a rollable phone, though its endless teasers never actually turned into a finished product. Instead, LG just fell further behind as a handful of companies swallowed up the industry. It has hemorrhaged market share (and billions of dollars) without ever getting much momentum.

LG leaving the market turns the U.S. in particular into effectively a duopoly. Apple and Samsung own more than 80% of the market between them, and Alcatel is now the third-largest brand in the country with 3% market share. Globally, of course, the landscape is much more competitive, and LG had long since been relegated to the "Others" category.

Not all of LG's work will go to waste, though. From cameras to processors to displays to networking components, the parts that made up smartphones now power everything from washing machines to cars. LG's going to hope it's not late to the future there either.

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