• Kyodo News


KDDI Corp. rolled out on Tuesday a new brand of mobile phones designed by internationally renowned Japanese artists including Yayoi Kusama in a bid to spur sales in a saturated market.

Japan’s second-largest mobile phone carrier will begin selling the first model later this month for more than ¥40,000 under the new iida brand, so named for its focus on design and art.

The G9 model, created by Ichiro Iwasaki, a former product designer for Sony Design Center, mainly targets businesspeople in their 30s. The phone can be connected to a separately sold device to project television programs, movies and photos on a wall.

The operator of the au mobile service has enjoyed success offering design-oriented handsets, a direction it will pursue under the new brand.

Artist Kusama will design three hand-painted models patterned with her brightly colored polka-dot motif that are expected to hit the market this summer.

One handset is shaped like a handbag embellished with pink polka dots, while another handset is placed inside a dog-shaped structure with pink and white polka dots.

The price of Kusama’s phones has not yet been set but will likely exceed ¥1 million, reflecting the eagerness of fans worldwide to own her work, a company official said.

KDDI President Tadashi Onodera acknowledged the just-ended business year was a tough period for the industry as a whole. He remarked that the era of competition focusing on high-tech mobile functions is ending with users now looking for cell phones that match their lifestyles.

“We hope to take mobile phones to the next stage with a brand like iida,” Onodera said.

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