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Summary:

LG Electronics hopes to turn around profits in its mobile communications division by building 20 new Google Android devices by the end of this year. Last year, LGE was vocally committed to Microsoft’s Windows Mobile platform. My, how one year can change everything.

LG Electronics hopes to turn around profits in its mobile communications division by building 20 new Google Android devices by the end of this year. Although LG’s upcoming handset portfolio isn’t exclusive to Android, the move signals a reversal of sorts — last February, LG announced full support for Microsoft Windows Mobile with plans to create north of 50 handsets on Microsoft’s platform. What a difference a year makes.

LG knows that the smartphone landscape of today is quite different from that of February 2009. Back then, Google’s Android platform was just a toddler, as the initial T-Mobile G1 had arrived only five months prior. Based on worldwide AdMob data reported that same month, Apple accounted for 33 percent of web requests while Symbian tumbled to 43 percent from 64 percent as BlackBerry and Windows Mobile brought up the rear. LG obviously couldn’t build iPhone or BlackBerry handsets, which left it with either Windows Mobile or Symbian. And while it could have followed in Samsung’s footsteps to build a proprietary platform, such an effort runs the risk of a weak ecosystem if developers aren’t attracted to build software.

LG still can’t build iPhones or BlackBerrys, of course, but it can join the Android army, which sold more Google handsets in the first quarter than Apple sold iPhones. LG may have bet on the wrong horse early last year, as Windows Mobile sales have dropped by comparison. Add in the fact that Microsoft hasn’t moved the platform forward much during that period and it’s clear why LG isn’t officially re-upping for another major tour of duty with Redmond. The company hasn’t said it’s abandoning Windows Mobile, but at least it can build handsets for a hot platform as it waits for Windows Phone 7 to arrive later this year.

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  1. With Google paying carriers to use Android it’s hardly surprising that the carriers have embraced Android so strongly. I’m pretty sure Microsoft doesn’t pay anybody to use their OS!

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  2. @Rich – Lets be clear here, Google does NOT pay carriers to use the open source and free Android OS. Google signs ad revenue sharing deals with carriers, and sometimes manufacturers, who are willing to include Google applications like search, Gmail, and Google Maps. Such applications are not part of the Android OS and are labeled “with Google” on all phones that use them. Also something to note is that manufactures who wish to have all of these Google services on their devices must pay Google a licensing fee for the software.

    So what Google is doing is helping manufactures, and carriers alike, to subsidize the cost of the “with Google” services, there-by helping to keep the cost of Android free while helping Google’s partners make some extra money via advertising revenue sharing.

    I hope that clears things up for you.

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    1. “something to note is that manufactures who wish to have all of these Google services on their devices must pay Google a licensing fee for the software”

      Which is your source for that information? And if there is a licencing fee involved in manufacturing “with Google”, how much is that licencing fee?

      I don’t believe there are any direct licencing fees, but I do believe Google has provided HTC, Samsung, Motorola, LG with special treatment, basically some kind of exclusivity in support and implementation of Android with Google apps integrated.

      Pricing of devices is up to each manufacturer and carriers though. Which is why the Nexus One wasn’t for sale on google.com/phone for $199 unlocked but for $529 unlocked, even though I think Google probably isn’t making any profit on the sale of the devices. 100% of the profits on hardware sales goes to the manufacturer. On top of that, I think, Google is paying some share of advertising revenues to the manufacturers and carriers.

      Eventually though, we will soon see many more manufacturers building cheaper Android phones, some without contracts, totally unlocked and sold below $200. Google will not be able to prevent those from including the “with Google” features, no matter what one may guess might be some kind of licencing fee involved. As early major Android investors make significant returns on their initial investments in betting on Android, Google will open up the Google certification to all other smaller manufacturers, openly and freely available for all manufacturers.

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  3. I dig the form factor diversity that android affords but freakin’ “20 new Google Android devices by the end of this year” is troubling. It sounds like LG just intends to dump crap handsets on the market and ride the android buzz. I’d love to be wrong but… damn have you looked at the majority of LG phones on the market. Not too promising.

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  4. Im an iPhone developer, but seeing opensource win, is still awesome.
    Go Android, free us from this chaos jobs put us in.

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  5. I am also m an iPhone developer But I don’t believe there are any direct licencing fees, but I do believe Google has provided HTC, Samsung, Motorola, LG with special treatment, basically some kind of exclusivity in support and implementation of Android with Google apps integrated. Thanks for sharing with us this information.

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  6. 20 handsets. Why? I don’t understand the idea of spending resource to make 20 different handsets. Make 1 and take your time and do it right, or at least close to right.

    JG

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  7. Seems like a no-brainer, to go with Android at this time. Also, with 20 handsets, they might be focusing more on developing nations more than the US. Interesting times.

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  8. Hi Kevin. A bit of clarification is required here.

    What we’ve said on more than one occasion is that LG would have a total of 20 or so smartphones out by the end of the year. We never specified how many of those would be running Android, how many would be Microsoft Mobile and how many would be something else. Not sure how the story came out this way but we figure it was due to some poor translation. I wish I could say for certain how many of each but the product portfolio is still in flux.

    Sorry to mislead you and your readers.

    Ken Hong
    LG Electronics
    Seoul

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  9. It seems Google Android has become the platform to save mobile phone companies. Consider Motorola, at one point there was talk of them getting out of the market, and now thanks to Android they’re producing some of the hotter Android phones.

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