Samsung Teams up with B&O on Phone

Posted by: Ihlwan Moon on October 8, 2007

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The latest thing among cellphone makers, it seems, is moving upscale. Little wonder that global manufacturers are reaching out to luxury brands to bring out fashion phones with a little panache. But it hasn’t always worked out. For instance, Samsung and Denmark’s Bang & Olufsen jointly developed a head-turning handset called the Serene in 2005, but the sleek phone was more notable for its form than its function.

Now the duo have switched tactics. They have paired up again, and this time around they’re emphasizing Bang & Olufsen’s signature sound quality as much as the handset’s design. The Serenata music phone, expected to hit stores in Europe in late October, includes a built-in hi-fi speaker and bass system that the companies say can play tunes for up to five hours (listening via headphones boosts battery time to 13 hours).

The Serenata holds 4GB of songs and has a number of other features similar to the iPhone. But if you’ve been put off by the iPhone’s $400 price tag, you’ll find no relief here. The Serenata will likely cost well over $1,000. And unlike the iPhone, the Serenata lacks a camera and doesn’t offer full browsing capability, although it is Internet-enabled through WAP 2.0.

For Samsung, Serenata underlines its campaign to cement its status as a provider of high-end handsets catering even to niche markets. The Korean company has also teamed up with European and American fashion designers to target young, trendy consumers. Last month, Italian designer Giorgio Armani unveiled a phone jointly developed with Samsung at his women’s wear show for spring and summer 2008. Armani and Samsung are also working together on an LCD TV due to be rolled out next January.

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