[CES 2019] LG chief puts greater focus on robotics
[THE INVESTOR] LAS VEGAS -- LG Electronics is striving to push its robotics business with the goal of reaching break-even point in two years, a top executive said on Jan. 9.
The Korean tech giant is preparing to debut new robots with different functions and some of them will be released soon during, said Vice Chairman and CEO Jo Seong-jin during a press conference held at the Consumer Electronics Show 2019 in Las Vegas.
“LG’s robotics business will be promoted with five pillars. They are home bots, commercial bots, industrial bots, wearable bots and entertainment bots,” he said.
Last year, Jo vowed to turn a profit from the robotics business in three years as it introduced eight robots.
“We will launch a lawn-mowing robot soon,” he said. “Test runs are underway in the US and also at a golf club in Gonjiam, Korea.”
LG on the same day announced a technological partnership on building autonomously driving robots with Korea’s largest internet company Naver.
Regarding prospects for the profitability of the robotics business, Jo said the break-even point would be reached in two years at the earliest, hinting that it still needs more time to see the fledgling business settle down.
LG has so far made investments in four robotics companies in order to secure advanced robotics and artificial intelligence technologies, and is planning to acquire more in the near future.
“I am constantly in touch with about 50 companies that are in my mind,” he said.
As part of measures to prevent an earnings shock, Jo stressed it is imperative to increase stable transactions with business customers.
The company’s operating profit in the fourth quarter of 2018 plunged 89.9 percent from the previous quarter and 79.5 percent on-year.
“We are seeking to prevent profit from tilting toward a specific season or month. That’s why expansion into a new business, for example by acquiring a new company like ZKW, is needed,” he said.
Despite a deficit of about 300 billion won (US$268 million) in the mobile communications business in the fourth quarter, Jo reiterated that LG will not withdraw from the smartphone business, while acknowledging the market is experiencing a fall in demand.
“Demand will inevitably fall if there is no change in the form factor of smartphones. We are experiencing it earlier than others,” he noted.
By Song Su-hyun/The Korea Herald (firstname.lastname@example.org)