LG pushes ahead despite backpedaling consumer economy

The Korean electronics maker introduces wireless, Netflix-equipped TVs and Blu-ray players at CES, and says it has no plans to reduce its spending this year.

LAS VEGAS--Despite the troubled economy and an expected drop in consumer purchases, LG Electronics said it doesn't plan to reduce its marketing and research spending in 2009.

President and CEO of LG Electronics North America Michael Ahn said his company's North American sales increased to more than $14 billion during 2008, a 16-percent increase from the previous year. Five years ago, LG sales in the region were just $5.6 billion until the company began sharpening its focus on the consumer market with its TVs, mobile phones, and Blu-ray disc systems.

"We will not reduce marketing spending or R&D spending" this year, Ahn told the crowd gathered for the company's press conference at the Consumer Electronics Show.

That's good news for the consumer electronics industry. Many of its leaders are looking for any conceivable way to save money right now, and some of the biggest names-- Samsung, Sony, and Panasonic --have all said they'll be cutting back on money spent on innovation.

LG had the stage to itself to kick off the yearly gadget show here in the desert. The company offered a glimpse of what it's been up to in its labs. Woo Paik, the company's chief technology officer, took the stage to show off the company's working prototype wristwatch phone . Paik took a phone call on stage with the touchscreen, water-resistant, music-playing, 3G device, which will be released in Europe first later this year.

LG has several lines of new LCD and plasma televisions equipped with wireless HDMI technology, which allows 1080p video signals to be sent to the set without HDMI cables. LG hasn't named any prices yet, but they will be available in May.

LG also continued a theme begun last year with its Netflix-connected Blu-ray player. The company will now incorporate Netflix directly into a line of its televisions as well , which will be ready for consumers in June.

About the author

Erica Ogg is a CNET News reporter who covers Apple, HP, Dell, and other PC makers, as well as the consumer electronics industry. She's also one of the hosts of CNET News' Daily Podcast. In her non-work life, she's a history geek, a loyal Dodgers fan, and a mac-and-cheese connoisseur.


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