Having once been the third largest smartphone company in the world, South Korean brand LG has announced that it will be exiting the smartphone business. This follows a period of significant losses for this section of the technology giant’s enterprise, with the overall figure thought to be $3.3 billion over the last six years.

The end of an era for LG

Once hailed as a key innovator in smartphone technology, LG was at its most successful in this market back in 2013, when it became the third largest smartphone producer globally. Indeed, LG smartphones are still popular in South Korea and North America, where it continues to be the third most popular brand. Now, LG smartphones comprise just 2% of the worldwide market, and so this part of the business is to be closed permanently, with LG’s leaders citing a sector which has become ‘incredibly competitive’ as a major influence in this decision.

LG has also suffered from problems relating to both hardware and software components, which have certainly had their own negative impact on the business. Recent weeks saw LG attempt to sell off portions of its smartphone division, but as these deals failed to reach fruition, the end is now inevitable for its smartphone manufacturing, with full closure expected by the end of July this year.

A history of innovation

One of the elements which has set LG apart from its competitors in the smartphone sector has been a willingness to innovate. This is, after all, the brand that has brought some notable and distinctive smartphones to market, such as the modular G5 model, which allowed the user to take it apart in order to pop in new parts, such as a better quality music player or a camera grip offering manual controls. Other highlights from LG’s back catalogue include the G Flex (with a self-healing back side), and the G3, which used laser technology to implement the camera focus. Last year saw the launch of its Wing handset, which had a larger screen which could be swivelled to reveal a smaller second screen beneath.

The company has continued to bring new ideas to its smartphone designs right to the very end, with the most recently proposed model featuring an extendable, rollable screen. This was trailed only a few months ago, indicating that the company had tried to continue its smartphone operations for as long as possible.

A bright future for LG

The loss of its smartphone division is not necessarily bad news for the South Korean business. The company comprises five divisions, and smartphone manufacture was in fact the smallest of these, and brings in only 7.4% of the company’s overall revenue.

The company continues to enjoy considerable success with its offering of televisions and other home appliances, and is currently the second highest selling TV brand worldwide, beaten only by fellow South Korean company Samsung.

Leaving behind the smartphone market is intended to give LG the ability to focus its resources in other, more profitable sectors. In particular, LG plans to target growth areas such as “electric vehicle components, connected devices, smart homes, robotics and artificial intelligence,” according to a statement from the brand. Indeed, LG has already made steps in this new direction, having partnered with car suppliers Magna International in December last year, in order to manufacture electric car parts.

Nor is the closure of LG’s smartphone division cause for alarm for consumers. LG has been keen to reassure customers with LG smartphones that their usage of their current smartphones will be unaffected. They will still receive vital updates and service support will continue to be available. The models currently available to buy in shops will still be sold, too. The only difference for consumers is that these will be the last LG smartphones to be made.