updated 03:50 pm EDT, Thu May 1, 2008
LG Prada in Japan
Fashion design firm Prada on Thursday said it would launch its LG Prada phone in Japan, signaling one of the few carrier-based releases for the touchscreen device outside of Europe. The phone will be paired up with dominant carrier NTT DoCoMo and will primarily be sold from Prada's own stores rather than cellular or electronics shops. Few details of the local phone are available, though the handset is likely to include some level of 3G support to handle Japan's networks and should keep the 2-megapixel camera of the original.
A version in Korea ships with mobile TV and may be ported over with support for Japan's native 1Seg digital broadcast standard in place of the Korean T-DMB format.
LG and Prada have yet to announce full details but will ship the phone on May 23rd. Pricing hasn't been set for the phone and may vary given Japan's traditional open price system, but is likely to float near the roughly $800 price of the European version. US customers already have access to the Prada in an unlocked edition but aren't expected to see a carrier version in light of related phones, such as the LG Vu.
The decision to avoid conventional phone stores in Japan is considered an end-run around the country's historical resistance to foreign-made phones, which are sometimes technically inferior or else don't receive the same discounts as locally produced devices from Sharp, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba, and others. [via WSJ]