LG's new G5 flagship has a unique system of modular accessories, dubbed Friends, that slot into the bottom of the phone. To expand the variety and number of these Friends, the Korean company has hosted a developer conference in Korea this week, which it will follow up with a separate event in San Francisco in April, reports ET News.
Both gatherings are designed to encourage third-party partners and developers to build their own LG Friends modules and accessories that would plug into a new ecosystem that the company is building out. Extending the theme of LG Play with Friends, the initiative is called LG Playground, and it already includes one prominent name in Bang & Olufsen. The Danish audio company is responsible for LG's Hi-Fi Plus plug-in unit, which augments the G5 with a 32-bit DAC and a more powerful amplifier. LG and B&O have today also announced a broader technological partnership that will include the production of OLED TVs.
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A dedicated website, lgfriends.com, is said to be launching on April 18th to serve as the place to find and buy compatible accessories. Importantly, LG still hasn't committed to making Friends modules compatible across devices. The Friends that link up via Bluetooth will obviously carry over between the G5 and whatever successors the company is planning, but there's no word yet on whether the G5's plug-in modules, such as the Hi-Fi Plus, will also work with upcoming phones like the successor to the V10 or next year's G6. All we know for sure is that LG is keen to expand on this Friends idea and to differentiate itself through the accessories that can be added to its devices.
Hardware and software developer kits will be made available in April, and LG has promised to create "a variety of programs that will support developers." ET News reports that LG's Korean Playground conference had 200 small and startup businesses in attendance, all of them expressing great interest in taking part, but it remains to be seen whether other companies of the size and prestige of Bang & Olufsen will choose to get involved as well. That is likely to be the ultimate determining factor of success for this Playground ecosystem initiative.