A key change has happened at the top of LG’s Mobile Communications food chain. Current president Hwang Jeong-hwan will leave the role to make way for Brian Kwon, who at the moment heads up LG’s home entertainment division. It’s not making a secret of why there is a leadership change, stating directly in the press release that Kwon is a “turnaround expert,” and it will be his job to get LG Mobile working like it once did.
LG Mobile had a poor 2017, and has continued to perform poorly in 2018, while the home entertainment division is one of the company’s most profitable. It’s certainly in need of turning around. LG last made changes to the mobile management structure in November 2017, and adopted a new strategy of releasing variations on its high-end devices, resulting in the V30S ThinQ, the V35 ThinQ, and the V40 ThinQ.
Kwon has been part of LG’s home entertainment division for several years, and taken part in its most interesting and innovative product releases — from the crazy levitating speaker seen in 2017, to this year’s incredible 8K television. When he took over the position at the head of the home entertainment table in 2015, he saw the value in OLED technology, and used it to push LG to the forefront of the TV market, while vowing to improve user experiences, and to increase competitiveness. For the last quarter in 2018, LG’s home entertainment division took $377 million in profit, while LG Mobile had a loss of $171 million.
It’s easy to see why LG’s management want Kwon to shake up the mobile division; but how many shake-ups will it take before the pieces fall into place? Kwon is coming into mobile at a time when plenty of new technology and design is about to hit the market, from 5G to foldable phones, 2019 promises to be an exciting year. There are rumors LG may have a foldable phone of its own to show at CES 2019 in January, which may see the company start the year off in a positive way. However, folding phones are a gamble, and may not capture buyer’s hearts, leaving LG with a potentially expensive dud.
Brian Kwon will start his new role on December 1, with Hwang Jeong-hwan returning to LG’s Convergence Business Development Office, after working on new quality and efficiency programs at LG Mobile. Now we get to see if Kwon’s turnaround tactics can return LG Mobile to its former heights.