3GSM - Fashion house Prada plans only one handset

Prada unveiled its touch-screen phone designed for LG Electronics at 3GSM, but said it isn't planning to create a second handset

Italian luxury goods manufacturer Prada has no plans to launch a second high-end mobile phone with LG Electronics but would consider co-developing another consumer electronics product with the South Korean manufacturer, a Prada executive said Monday at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona.

LG Electronics used the first day of the mobile industry event to unveil its Prada designer handset, which sports a large touch-screen display similar to the one featured in Apple's upcoming iPhone. The touch keypad, which eliminates the conventional keypad, becomes invisible when not in use.

Prada agreed to co-design a handset "to make a statement," Prada business development director Giacomo Ovidi said at a news conference. "A second phone would be something expected, which we don't like to do, so maybe we'll look at some other interesting product where we can make a unique statement."

Ovidi referred to the partnership between the two companies as "unconventional," adding that five rival manufacturers had approached the Italian fashion designer to pursue co-branding opportunities. "We said no to the other companies because we weren't interested in co-branding; we wanted to have a design input," he said.

The new handset packs a bunch of other features into its 98.8 millimeters x 54 millimeters x 12 millimeters compact design. These include an MP3 music player, 2 megapixel camera and memory slot for an 8M-byte storage card.

Prada and LG Electronics will launch the phone in March in France, Germany, Italy and the U.K., with Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore to follow. A Korean version is planned in the second quarter of 2007. No date has been set for the U.S.

The phone will cost around Euro 600 (US$781).

Chang Ma, LG Electronics vice president of marketing, said the new phone isn't "a limited edition" device but declined to disclose the number of units the company plans to manufacture.

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John Blau

IDG News Service

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