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LG aims to raise smartphone sales by 52 percent

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- LG Electronics Inc. is aiming to raise its smartphone sales by more than half this year as it makes a shift from basic phones to high-end devices after lagging competitors for several years.

The South Korean company aims to sell more than 40 million smartphones in 2013, it said in a statement on Monday. LG shipped 26.3 million smartphones in 2012, fewer than HTC Corp. and Research In Motion Ltd. which each shipped more than 32 million smartphones.

To meet the sales goal, LG will release handsets in all price ranges from high-tier to affordable models and go all out in both developed and emerging markets.

“We aim to improve profitability and also to become a top-tier smartphone brand,” Park Jong-seok, head of LG's mobile phone business, told reporters at a mobile industry fair in Barcelona, according to the statement.

LG faces similar challenges to other second-tier smartphone vendors. They are squeezed by the two smartphone giants _ Samsung Electronics Co. and Apple Inc. _ that are dominating most of the profit in the smartphone industry and also by Chinese makers that are expanding in the smartphone markets of fast-growing emerging countries.

But LG hopes to make its Optimus brand stand out by drawing on technologies from other parts of the LG empire. The company is the largest shareholder in LG Display Co. and has collaborated with other LG affiliates on batteries and cameras.

LG was the world's third-largest maker of cellphones in 2009 but was caught off guard by the popularity of smartphones. In the fourth quarter of 2012, LG sold fewer phones than Chinese rivals Huawei Technologies Ltd. and ZTE Corp., which are expanding shipments of their cheaper smartphones.

Its mobile communications division was profitable for the first time in three years last year as it moved its focus from basic phones to lucrative smartphones.

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