We liked the LG Viewty, it was a nice handset with a good feature set and a few niggling flaws but it looks set to become the surprise UK sales hit of 2007.
According to official figures, the Viewty - also known as the 'KU990' - has sold a remarkable 310,000 units since its launch at the beginning of November, a figure that even tops previous LG best-sellers like the 'Chocolate' and 'Shine'.
Surprisingly, such large numbers are also thought to have inched the Viewty ahead of its main mobile rival: the hallowed Apple iPhone. While 70,000 of the so-called Jesus Phone were snapped up during the handset's opening weekend, interest is said to have cooled markedly since and Apple has mysteriously declined to publish sales figures. In fact, it has gone so far as to block analyst group Gfk from tracking point-of-sale numbers, a first for any phone in the UK.
So what has swayed people's hearts? In a word: cash. For while the Viewty looks good on paper with a 5MP autofocus, flash equipped camera, 120fps video recording and similarly sizeable touchscreen, it appears even better on the balance sheet coming free with most midrange contracts and up. By contrast, the far more expensive iPhone may draw more glances with its revolutionary interface but it doesn't seem enough (at least in its first iteration) to make potential customers part with their cash.
Now I have my own opinions on this but ultimately Apples' problem is that the European market is spoiled with cheap, inexpensive 3G handsets. Of course, all this runs contrary to the iPhones' incredible impact in the US where it has already gobbled up 27 per cent of the North American smartphone sector.
So Apple, take a tip for 2008: If you want the iPhone v2.0 to be a global sales success start doing market research outside the 50 States…