LG boosts mobile recovery with cloud services
Adds 3D-oriented streaming platform which runs across handsets, TVs and PCs, but pulls back on WP7
Published: 30 April, 2012
Last year saw LG linked with new operating systems like MeeGo and hinting at creating its own software platform. But as the Korean firm shows signs of a recovery in its pressurized smartphone business, it has decided to concentrate its resources keenly on Android. It is set to defocus on Windows Phone and differentiate itself in the Android crowd through content and cloud services.
This week sees LG unveiling its cloud multimedia streaming service, which will allow users to manage and consume digital content across Android handsets, PCs and smart TVs. LG Cloud automatically synchronizes mobile content, apps and data with the cloud server and with the PC and television, and links both to generic Android store, now called Google Play, and LG;s own SmartWorld shop and LG Cloud web site. LG aims to offer both free and premium cloud apps and services via the two storefronts, and is also targeting business users with its new Smart Business Center.
The approach is nothing new of course. Amazon has led the way in cloud-based content which is synchronized over different devices, and most of the smartphone vendors are building up cloud and media services - even those which do not have multiple screens in their own portfolios, like HTC. LG, like its larger compatriot Samsung, hopes to leverage adoption of TVs, tablets and other large-screen devices with its cloud offering, as well as handsets.
And to stand out from the crowd, it is emphasizing 3D, as it does in its top end smartphones. Videos recorded with an LG 3D handset can be uploaded via 3G or Wi-Fi to the cloud for viewing on LG Cinema 3D Smart TVs. The vendor says it has harnessed its own real time transcoding system to minimize delays or glitches in streaming, by converting content on the cloud server, not locally.
Ben Wood, director of research at CCS Insight, told IDG: "The challenge is how LG will differentiate its cloud offering from everyone else working aggressively in this space, whether it is Samsung's Allshare, Apple with iCloud or a third party cloud providers."
Meanwhile, LG says Windows Phone is taking a "back seat" in its plans for 2012. The company launched a WP7 smartphone when Microsoft first went live with the operating system, but like other supporters, it has seen Nokia taking the premier position among OEMs for the platform. It has also been trying to focus its R&D resources more precisely, and seems to have backed away from plans to put serious effort into a second string OS, as a balance to Android and Google. This contrasts with the strategy at Samsung, which supports Android, bada, WP7 and is also working on the open source platform Tizen.
LG spokesman Ken Hong told FierceWireles: "Although we currently don't have another Windows device in the pipeline, that is simply because demand for Android devices is so strong. We've maintained since the beginning that LG will support whatever operating system consumers want but at the moment."
However, he said the firm had not abandoned the OS, and the Korea Herald speculates that LG may return to the WP7 fold, after a forthcoming visit to Korea by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Although the paper had reported that LG said "the total unit of Windows Phone sold in the global market is not a meaningful figure", it thinks Ballmer will try to offer new incentives to keep LG's support. He is visiting the Seoul Digital Forum on May 22.