Singapore and Hong Kong are ideal places to do canary tests on mobile
phones. Both countries sell mobile phones unlocked, and have huge mobile penetration rates
upwards of 150 percent
— that’s at least 1.5 phones per resident.
Throw in smartphone penetration rates
upwards of 87 percent for both countries, fast 4G networks and a highly
mobile-centric culture which can afford pretty much any phone they
desire — whatever goes on in the Singapore and Hong Kong mobile scene
is pretty much indicative of what’s going to happen in the rest of the
world (if the rest of the world had freedom of choice without carriers
trying to tie you down with locked devices).
The mobile insiders I
know, however, are a different breed to your usual customers — they
aren’t buying a cellphone for themselves, but more interested in finding
out how well a phone will do in the marketplace.
They look at the marketing done by smartphone vendors; identify highly
marketable, game changing features; evaluate telco support; and also
determine the all important pricing and profitability of new phones.
They view the market as a whole in hard-nosed dollars and cents, and
they bet with their own money. And it looks like the smart money might
be on LG’s latest offering.
When the LG G2 was announced in July 2013
in Singapore, nobody gave two hoots. Insiders weren’t too concerned,
and LG was treated like a pariah with minimal stock commitments. The G3
looks like it will be a different story entirely. “The G2 was announced
softer than the sound of a pin dropping,” said a manager of a mobile
store. “Now the G3 has proper marketing!”
It’s no secret that LG’s new phones are great value for money. One can buy an 32GB LG G2 for S$600 ($480, £285, AU$518) in Singapore — incredible value considering that the 16GB Samsung Galaxy S4 sells for S$848 ($678, £403, AU$729).
Likewise, the 32GB LG G3 will retail for S$928 ($740, £440, AU$799) contract free, which would again make it significantly cheaper than the Samsung Galaxy S5 at S$1068 (S$854, £508, AU$918).
G3 is ticking all the right boxes on spec sheets as well. “When we
heard about the leaks about the G3 specifications from Korea, we weren’t
sure whether those were engineered leaks or the real deal,” said an LG
distributor. “However, the Laser autofocus will be a killer feature as
most customers are dead serious about the camera speed. If it really
works as advertised it would be killer.”
To no one’s surprise, the real fight is between the G3 and the S5.
Most insiders were mildly surprised that the S5 sales weren’t earth
shattering, but since they had been following the Galaxy S II’s rise from nothing, nobody got a heart attack.
G2 only got traction in December (2013) and it was all the way up from
there! Then came the G Pro 2, which had a great response. I think the G3
will gain LG even more market share at the expense of someone, ” a
wireless carrier executive said. “The G3 may get more traction than the
“The G3 may get more traction than the Galaxy S5!”
insiders believe that the G3 will definitely gain market share for LG
at Samsung’s expense (and Apple, to a lesser extent). But the jury is
still out as to whether the G3 could take the smartphone crown from
Samsung. Samsung’s aggressive marketing, the popularity of the Galaxy Note 3 and its first mover status has indeed earned it a large market base.
However, Singapore and Hong Kong are notoriously brand agnostic — iOS market share dropped from a peak
of 72 percent in January 2012 to 37 percent in May 2014 — and it’s
still dropping, while Android smartphone sales rose from 19 percent to
58 percent in the same time frame.
“The thinner bezel looks
great. The size of the phone didn’t widen, that’s good. Advanced buyers,
paper shoppers and spec maniacs like things like that. The crazy hi-res
screen is nice, but it’s hard to sell quality, but it’ll help if it’s
not too expensive to build,” said a mobile phone distributor. “The metal
film back will help first impressions for sure! At least they won’t get
struck with HTC envy.”
It’s certainly impressive that LG managed
to keep the phone weight size in check while enlarging the screen, and
the metallic back was a great compromise — it looks great while keeping
weight down and reception compromises to a minimum.
insiders deliberate about the number of containers they will commit to,
I’ll consider the G3 as a worthy replacement for my current G2 — even
if it’s just for the laser focus camera.