Johannesburg - LG Electronics Mobile Communications intends to boost its South African staff complement of 54 by a third to service growth ambitions following the launch of its first premium smartphone in the market last week.
Deon Prinsloo, the general manager for the mobile unit, was confident the firm could make inroads into the local market, which is dominated by Samsung, because “large numbers of consumers are migrating from feature phones to smartphones”, Prinsloo said on Friday, a day after his company launched the LG G2 smartphone in Johannesburg.
It aims to gain traction in the premium smartphone device category, and will have to catch up to Sony, HTC, Samsung and, to some extent, Apple and BlackBerry.
“LG brands in terms of consumer electronics has been extremely strong… but consumers have never had a premium device in terms of mobile devices,” Prinsloo said.
The G2 was listed with all the wireless network providers in the country, which had not been the case with previous cellphone handsets offered by the firm, Prinsloo said. “That bodes very well for us.”
According to the firm’s research, the R1 000 to R3 000 price band was contracting as consumers demanded higher-priced cellphones with bigger display screens and faster processing power.
This growth was also evident elsewhere in the Indian Ocean islands, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Lesotho, where LG was also making inroads. South Africa acts as a hub for the region.
Towards the end of December, LG will launch its first tablet locally. The company was in discussions with local operators to educate the market on what was possible using the phones, devices and data, Prinsloo said.
The company was also targeting the enterprise segment where “there is a lot of work to be done” to provide turnkey solutions. “Our biggest focus is establishing ourselves first with general consumers.”
The sales team was small and required a boost to enable the the company to pursue new routes to market. LG would recruit new enterprise partners, key account managers, and specialists in prepaid and postpaid selling in the new year, Prinsloo said.
LG’s biggest challenge could be to create a compelling awareness of its product. In South Africa, it was “very much a peripheral brand among consumers but the G2 could certainly change that”, said Arthur Goldstuck, the managing director of World Wide Worx, a technology consulting firm.
The G2 was touted by other analysts as a smartphone that compared well within its rank to the Samsung Galaxy S4 or Sony Experia, he said.
While it maintained the body size of it rivals, the phone had a larger display screen, which bolstered its appeal. - Business Report