By  on September 24, 2007

MILAN — As part of a strategy to expand his lifestyle products, Giorgio Armani has teamed up with consumer electronics giant Samsung Electronics to develop a portable phone and a luxury LCD television — the first items of a series of home electronic goods.

The phone will be unveiled at the Armani Teatro today before the designer's fashion show. It will be rolled out in the European market in November and in other countries next year. The phone is being developed for the designer's signature and Emporio Armani lines. The TV is being developed as part of the Armani Casa home line and will be unveiled in January 2008.

"Today fashion has expanded to encompass our way of life, not just how we dress, but how we design our home, the hotels we stay in, the car we drive and the technology we buy," said the designer in a statement issued on Sunday. "In fact, we make as much of a personal statement with the mobile phones that we carry or the televisions we have in our living rooms as we do with the shoes and bags we wear or the furnishings we choose to place in our homes," Armani said. Armani, who will provide the design aesthetic of the products, underscored how "these are all lifestyle decisions, where design and performance are the criteria."

The designer pointed to Samsung as a company that has "successfully anticipated the growing role for consumer electronics in our lives, while recognizing the importance of self-expression in the development of its products."

The phone can fit in a person's palm, as it is the size of a credit card and a mere 9.9 mm in thickness. A large 2.6-inch QVGA TFT LCD screen maximizes the user's visual experience and optimizes the full touch-screen user interface (UI). By adapting a haptical UI, users can feel an immediate mild vibration when they touch icons on the display.

Despite its compactness, the phone is equipped with a 3-megapixel camera, a music player supporting various types of formats and a full internet browser. Furthermore, the Giorgio Armani-Samsung Mobile offers a microSD type external memory slot and comes with a Bluetooth stereo headset. A specially designed Giorgio Armani leather carrying case is also included. The new products will be distributed in upscale consumer electronics stores and through Giorgio Armani's direct controlled retail network. The price of the phone is 650 euros, or $915 at current exchange.The home electronics products will be increasingly more relevant for the designer's business, as he plans to open hotels and residences around the world and in light of his ever-expanding home collection. Today, Armani has 25 Casa stores in 46 countries.

Other fashion brands have tapped into the consumer goods industry, in the belief that portable phones are increasingly objects of design and style — even status symbols. Last year, Prada signed an agreement with LG Electronics to launch a touch interface portable phone, Dolce & Gabbana collaborated with Motorola on a MotoRazr V3i and Versus launched a cell phone-MP3 player with Samsung.

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