According to a report filed this morning by the English-language Korea Herald, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is expected to meet with Korean business leaders late next month in Seoul to discuss details around the latest Microsoft platforms as part of the Seoul Digital Forum being held on May 22nd.
Key among those expected to meet with Ballmer is LG Electronics head Koo Bon-joon following comments made by LG executives last week during its latest earnings call, where executives commented that the sales performance of LG smartphones powered by Windows Phone were well below expectations and that the company would continue to conduct research and development work on the platform, but that no new devices were planned for release at this time.
As LG was one of the first wave of launch partners for Windows Phone signed to the platform when first announced in 2009, the comments come at a time of increasing anxiety for Microsoft, as the Nokia partnership is the only key positive being highlighted in favor of the platform while questions surround its viability after the mobile division refuses to answer long-term support questions on the issue of updates for current devices, including the recently launched Nokia Lumia 900, which is supposed to be the current Windows Phone flagship.
The report also suggests that LG executives consider the sales tally of LG Windows Phone models to be less than satisfactory for the company to continue development, as LG launched two Windows Phone models within the last 18 months, which were released on AT&T in the US to little if any fanfare. The LG Quantum and Optimus 7 were a part of Microsoft’s massive campaign to launch Windows Phone in November of 2010, only to languish in near obscurity and end up as easy overstock fodder, since both can now easily be purchased outright for a third of their original purchase price on ebay.
With sales of LTE powered Android phones being LG Mobile’s sole bright spot in comparison, it remains to be seen whether LG’s statement that its relationship with Microsoft remains a solid as claimed, or whether Ballmer’s trip is indeed a reaction to LG’s comments. Even though LG is comparatively the smallest player in terms of share and volume, the potential of losing a long time player in mobile phones is great enough for Microsoft to send its CEO to perform damage control disguised as a general visit to a conference, which underscores Microsoft’s current issues with Windows Phone as a whole.