After 15 months of negotiations and R&D, LG and Prada formally launched their handset during a press conference today. The phone will sell for prices starting at €600 in Europe. The handset has recently garnered comparisons to the seemingly ubiquitous iPhone (it's been referenced in nearly every gathering here).
Prada phone specs: The handset is a mere 12 mm thin (just shy of Samsung's Ultra Thin 10.7 mm phone) with a 3.0 inch wide LCD screen, a 2.0 megapixel camera and an MP3 player. It boasts USB v. 2, EDGE tri-band, BlueTooth 2.0 and GPRS connectability. One of the breakout features of the phone is that it's "buttonless," meaning is makes use of a touchscreen (no stylus.)
Distribution plans: While neither company would disclose specific targets for shipping units, they did disclose that the U.K., Germany, Italy and France will be the first markets to get the handset in March, 2007. "Select" mobile dealerships and Prada stores will sell them. Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore will get the phone following Europe, while Korea will get its version in Q2 of 2007. No plans yet for a North American launch, LG says it wants to focus on Europe and Asia at this time. That said, LG's Chang Ma added: "This is not a limited edition phone. We want to make it available to all."
iPhone comparison: One analyst asked the executives whether they plan to sue Apple as some reports have suggested over design similarities with the iPhone: LG executive Chang Ma replied: "Should we? (laughs) Obviously, we are introducing this touch screen first [since the Prada phone will be available in Europe next month]... we are much more faster realizing and launching products in the market [than Apple]. But LG is targeting a different customer than Apple." While Ma failed to elaborate on that last statement, he has a point, but it's not entirely true: There's no specific music service tie-in with the Prada phone, but it's price point is €600, which is rather close to Apple's high-end $599 iPhone.
On the JV: Prada's executives stressed their commitment to the joint venture with LG, which came after years of pitches from other handset manufacturers, they said. Prada's Giacomo Ovidi claimed that Prada is "not just another fashion company marrying a tech one for a few months to market an existing telephone," but rather its collaboration with LG is a longterm strategy that will produce other joint products in the future. No, there won't be a second coming of the Prada phone--not one in red or with an updated UI, Ovidi says--"To have a Prada 2 is a little expected [by the industry] and that's not what we want to do." In March, the two companies plan to meet somewhere in Asia to discuss further collaboration.
Shine: LG also launched their second Black Label series handset, Shine. Shine follows in the footsteps of the wildly popular Chocolate handset, which has shipped 10 million units. Black Label handsets share a focus on design and feel of the hardware. LG expects to sell 5 million units of the Shine handset in 2007, which the company believes will appeal to a broader segment of users because of its metallic look. Apparently, their team believes the Chocolate is very stylish and its "sharp edge" is more appealing to young users. Shine will launch in the U.K., France and Germany this month with launches in Asia and North America to follow during the first half of 2007.
- the Prada phone press release
- the Shine phone press release
PLUS: LG's Overall growth strategy: LG mentioned a few metrics pertaining to its growth and strategy moving forward: W-CDMA marketshare in Europe is slightly less than 10 percent. The company plans to have double-digit W-CDMA marketshare in the region "quickly." Also, LG plans to ship 78 million units in 2007, up from 64 million in 2006. The company says emerging markets represent the biggest opportunity to rein that goal in, however, LG still plans to eke out a little more marketshare in the fiercely competitive Western Europe region.
ALSO: Windows Mobile 6 from LG: LG is also the first to license Microsoft's Windows Mobile 6 OS, which Microsoft unveiled last week, for phones running on Japanese carrier Softbank's network. Release