LG Shine launch dulled by Prada buzz

LG Electronics launched its official follow-up to the popular Chocolate phone at 3GSM in Barcelona, only for it to be somewhat upstaged by another phone making its European debut: LG's Prada phone.

The Shine is the second model in LG's "Black Label" series with design given priority over cutting-edge features like GPS, hard drives and support for mobile TV.

Indeed, aside from the design - which features a metallic finish and a mirror LCD - there's not much difference feature-wise between Shine and Chocolate. However, LG VP of marketing Chang Ma, says Shine is intended to appeal to a broader market than the Chocolate phone.

"Chocolate was designed to appeal to the young users and trendsetters, but when we started working on Shine, we started with the design concept of metal, and then we designed it to appeal to older users, as well as young users who would like it for different reasons than Chocolate," he said.

All the same, at the LG launch on Monday, the Prada phone arguably stole the show in terms of media interest.

Announced in Korea last month, the Prada phone has been generating plenty of media hype largely from its similarity to Apple's similarly hyped iPhone, such as its multimedia capabilities and a form factor featuring a touch screen instead of a keypad - and the fact that the Prada phone will hit shelves in Europe and Asia months before the iPhone launches in the US.

Giacomo Ovidi, group business development director for Prada, was quick to point out that the Prada phone was not a simple co-branding exercise similar to other fashion branded handsets.

"This is not a limited edition phone or a phone with a fashion brand on it - it's a fashion object like all the other things we sell," Ovidi said. "We were involved in the design on the outside and inside. We use marketing consistent with the way we market all our products."

That said, the Prada phone will be a one-off for the fashion label, Ovidi added, though that didn't mean it wouldn't collaborate with LG on other products.

"We don't want to do a second Prada phone, where it's a similar phone with new colors or something. There's no news value in it for us," he said. "Future collaborations should explore different areas. If we find another product of interest to work with LG on, we'll do it."