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LG launches G Flex curved smartphone in ROC

TAIPEI--LG Electronics Inc., the world's fourth-largest smartphone maker, launched its first curved smartphone in Taiwan Monday as part of efforts to boost its smartphone sales by 50 percent this year.

The South Korean electronics giant sold 300,000 smartphones in Taiwan last year for a 3-percent market share, with both figures expected to reach 450,000 units and a 5-percent share in 2014, said Jackie Kim, director of mobile business at LG's Taiwan branch.

LG's sales value in Taiwan totaled about NT$3.5 billion (US$116.6 million) in 2013 and made up 3 percent of the overall market, and the ratio is projected to rise to 8 percent this year thanks to the rising average selling price of its products, Kim said.

“Local operators are planning to shift their customers from 2G to 3G networks, which will drive demand for smartphones,” Kim told reporters at a press conference in Taipei announcing the G Flex, LG's first smartphone with a curved display.

“As the smartphone market has become saturated and Taiwan will not begin its 4G operations until the second half of this year, we think the overall smartphone volume in Taiwan will not grow significantly,” he said.

The 6-inch G Flex is LG's first 4G LTE phone available in Taiwan, and will be on sale through Chunghwa Telecom Co., Taiwan's largest mobile provider, at NT$24,900 (US$829).

Prior to its Taiwan launch, the G Flex has been rolled out in select Asian markets including South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore since the phone's unveiling in November.

Among LG's planned sales target of 450,000 smartphones in Taiwan this year, 66 percent will support 4G LTE wireless broadband, Kim noted.

The company aims to be ranked among the top four 4G phone vendors in the local market, offering a complete range of 4G models based on Taiwanese carriers' needs, including models supporting the 700 MHz frequency band that are expected to be released late in the first quarter, Kim said.

The auction for the 4G spectrum in Taiwan began Sept. 3 and came to an end Oct. 30 after 392 rounds of bidding. The bids by the six companies vying for licenses totaled NT$118.65 billion, 3.3 times the floor price set by the government.

2014 is also the year in which the top three local telecom operators will promote upgrades from 2G subscription to 3G.

Chunghwa Telecom said it hopes to upgrade 1.2 million 2G subscribers to 3G, which means it will have only around 1.6 million 2G users by the end of the year.

The company is also expecting its mobile Internet subscribers to reach 5 million this year, while Taiwan Mobile Co. and Far EasTone Telecommunications Co. are aiming for 4 million each.

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This Jan. 6 photograph shows LG Electronics Inc.'s curved smartphone G Flex. The South Korean electronics company launched G Flex in Taiwan yesterday as part of its efforts to boost its smartphone sales by 50 percent this year. The G Flex has been rolled out in South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore since the phone's unveiling in November.

(CNA)

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