LG Electronics Inc said on Tuesday it was targeting a 30 percent annual rise in 2011 handset sales to 150 million units and would launch 20 smartphone models, as it seeks to turn its loss-making mobile division profitable.

LG <066570.KS> is struggling with record losses as it failed to respond quickly to the smartphone boom, jump-started by Apple's iPhone.

The company reiterated its target of raising shipments of smartphones four-fold to more than 30 million units, having them account for half of revenue in its mobile division.

We are already focusing all our resources on delivering the widest variety of smart devices for all types of customers, Park Jong-seok, head of LG's mobile division, said in a statement.

This will be a critical year for LG and a lot of eyes are upon (whether) we'll succeed. We don't intend to let them down.

LG plans to hire more than 6,000 research and development staff this year as it tries to gain traction in the smartphone market.

LG is the world's No.3 handset vendor with around 8.6 percent market share, but one of the smallest in the smartphone segment.

At the Mobile World Congress held in Barcelona this week, LG, which competes with Nokia and Samsung Electronics Co <005930.KS>, introduced new smartphone Optimus 3D, which allows users to record and view 3D content.

(Reporting by Miyoung Kim; Editing by Jonathan Hopfner)