Napoleon Bonaparte had famously remarked that it was but a step from the sublime to the ridiculous. And it was a step that LG seemed perilously close to taking many times while launching its new flagship, the V20, in India yesterday. It was a pretty high-profile event. Literally. Twenty floors above ground level in the Sky Lounge at the Royal Plaza hotel in the Indian capital, Delhi. Not a bad idea on most days, but not the most clever when winter is closing in. Many had the gentle shiver on that terrace that night, and the cause was the weather and not the excitement around the launch (the fact that things got delayed by close to an hour did not add warmth).
The launch itself was a blend of the routine presentation and informal activity. The former worked relatively well. After all, the LG V20 is an impressive piece of hardware and in Amit Gujral, LG India’s Marketing Head, it had a presenter who was very comfortable in the spotlight. There are some who might wince at Gujral’s approach which can come across as slightly overconfident and too easy with adjectives, but no one can deny the fact that the man does get attention. And he managed to score brownie points within minutes of starting when he asked everyone to drop the LG V20 on the floor right away. They did. And nothing happened to the phone. Cue applause without any prompting – a rarity at a tech event.
But if Gujral was in fine fettle, walking the media through different aspects of the device, those who supported him on the stage did not quite have as good a day. There was an attempt to portray LG as the company that was looking at the “sound” part of phones which others had seemingly forgotten – a good idea if only HTC and Lenovo had not hammered it to death over the past two years. And then there was the determinedly cheerful anchor who kept telling us that a V20 could be won by posting pictures and selfies on social networks and demanded we be delighted at the fact (“I would be happy if I was getting this phone”). It all took the edge off the product, I think, which deserved a whole lot more attention.
Once Gujral’s presentation was over – and love it or hate it, there was no doubt that people were mesmerised by it – things became a tad chaotic, with impromptu competitions and activities (yes, this was supposed to be a media event, but these things do happen these days). Towards the end, we were being asked to click selfies with the V20 and other devices and were being told that the V20’s selfies were better (they were not always, alas, but we suspect the lighting had something to do with the matter). The approach did have its adherents – one person loudly declared an intent to swap the OnePlus 3 in their possession for the V20. Whether that will actually happen is another story and one which I do not think we will cover.
Speaking personally – and I am willing to be accused of being old-fashioned – I really think LG would have aced it with a quiet, formal briefing. There was some serious tech in the device, especially in multimedia terms (we are so going to discuss this when the review units come in), but unfortunately, a lot of momentum was lost in trying to give the evening an “informal” feel. To make matters a tad more embarrassing, the unit that was given to us for the “hands on” literally became untouchable – the touchscreen stopped responding, although a restart set matters right.
I will let the cheerful anchor have the final word: “Those who do not clap will not be served food.”
Okay then. Welcome, V20.