Home opinion-and-analysis ShawThing LG hates Samsung (and vice versa)

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It must be hard for LG to apparently always come second to its Korean sibling Samsung – in every field including mobile phones, TV and domestic appliances. Contrary to opinion LG does not mean “Low Grade”.

I mean there are classic love hate relationships like Apple versus Google, Apple versus Microsoft, Apple versus Adobe, Apple versus Samsung, Apple versus Intel (is there a trend emerging here?) but rumour is that these two Korean giants even have staff focused on shafting each other.

LG just wants a break instead of being at the receiving end of the seemingly universal cry “LG, don’t buy”. It is presently a good OEM doing what Korean companies are good at – taking other peoples designs (i.e. Google’s Nexus 7) and building a quality product for the lowest possible price. Like all Asian brands they are going through the evolution from manufacturer to designer and that means a change in mindset as well as skillset to offer western brand experiences like decent warranty and support.

Part of the problem is that LG’s smartphone software uses Android and earlier attempts to skin and differentiate this from Samsung and Android were not great. Looking at the new Optimus G (not reviewed in detail yet but I spent some time pawing over one) I think it is pretty good – certainly a reasonable substitute for Samsung’s yet to be released S4.

You know that a company has evolved when it starts suing others for patent infringement. LG sued Samsung for its Galaxy tablet, note and S smartphones over their OLED display. Perhaps LG have a good case - let the judge decide that. In return Samsung filed a court complaint about LG luring away senior Samsung researchers and has now tried to overturn some of LG’s OLED patents “as they lack innovation” (yet Samsung is happy to use them).

Then there was the recent Times Square fiasco where Samsung had its large “Be ready for Galaxy S4” billboards topped overnight by larger LG Optimus G “already here” billboards.

The rivalry does not stop at smartphones. Samsung just took (26 March 2013) LG to court claiming LG had tarnished Samsung’s corporate image over which had the biggest fridge, looking for a mere $45 billion dollars from LG over its alleged porky. Mind you a few years earlier LG was forced to refund customers who bought fridges with overstated capacities and understated power use – a simple measurement error they say. White goods retailers say that today customers come in to buy Samsung but walk out with LG as it is cheaper and for the most part a better buy (fridge and washers).

In the TV arena retailers generally say that LG products are no longer “tier 2” and that its panels are perhaps better in 55 and 60” than Sony or Samsung – but their software still could use work.

In the Air conditioner area Choice Magazine gave LG’s 7.1kW split system a better rating then the usual suspects.

Amplicate’s Hate LG site  shows a steady decline – now only 26% of people “hate” LG and for the most part it includes statements that all Korean products are crap (Hyundai, Kia, Samsung and LG) and about older products that possibly were. I suspect LG like all its equally well-known Korean cousins knows that the days of making mass market, imitative and cheap products is over (at least for Western markets).

Conversely Amplicate’s Love LG site shows 74% think differently. The common thread is that the number two company now makes better products than the number one and reliability, especially in the past couple of years has greatly improved. All LG needs to address is more innovation for its custom smartphone skin and the timeliness of its OS software updates and it may score a few more points.

Perhaps it is time that LG simply accepted the number two underdog position (with humility that appears lacking) and developed its own style by hiring some well-known designers and putting more money into innovation instead of emulation. Ignoring Samsung and ending ‘tit for tat’ wars could be the best strategy. If Hyundai and Kia can do this relatively quickly (who ever thought owning a Hyundai would be aspirational?) LG surely can.

A similar iTWire opinion piece about Samsung is here.

Holden versus Ford debate all over.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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