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Alas, Poor LG...

LG once out-iPhoned the iPhone. Now it’s exiting the phone business completely

Roger Cheng, CNET:

In January 2007, a consumer electronics giant announced the world’s first full touchscreen phone. Critics showered it with praise for its bold and sleek design. It launched a few months later and became a big hit. But this wasn’t Apple. LG Electronics pioneered this breakthrough, collaborating with luxury brand Prada on a phone with a capacitive touchscreen – the type found on all modern smartphones – that hit the market just before the original iPhone. 

The Prada Phone garnered accolades before the iPhone was even a thing, with an early design mockup winning an iF Product Design Award in 2006 in Germany. But that didn’t matter. When Steve Jobs took the stage – also in January 2007 – at Apple’s then-annual Macworld conference with the iPhone in hand, he changed the world.

I must admit that I’d completely forgotten about the LG Prada. It turns out that I’m not the only one.

The ignominious end to LG’s phone business is fitting considering its two decades as a handset maker that continuously tried – and failed – to reach that upper strata of cellphone players. The company never fully capitalized on the household name recognition built on a family of products that includes televisions, laptops, washing machines and kitchen appliances. Furthermore, it was beset by an inferiority complex to crosstown rival Samsung.

Instead, LG’s history with phones ping-pongs between dealing with existential threats and eking out moderate hits just successful enough to keep it in the game as a second-tier player. It shares a similar story to Motorola and Nokia, feature phone stalwarts that were swallowed up by the disruptions brought on by the smartphone. While LG never enjoyed their heights of success, it did manage to survive longer.

What a strange epitaph: “We survived longer than Motorola or Nokia.”

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