We are asking this question for real.
Who buys Vertu phones?
The luxury division of Nokia seemed like a good idea when the luxury mobile phone brand was launched several years ago. Of course, at that time, even busy executives still made do with a Motorola RAZR and maybe a Palm Pilot. The idea that someone who would settle for nothing less than an Hermès handbag should have an equally precious cell phone made perfect sense and looked like a great business opportunity —at the time.
Vertu phones appear to retail from $7,800 to $16,000, and so it makes sense that the brand is planning to open its stand-alone boutique on a stretch of madison Avenue that is saturated with jewelers and luxury watchmakers. The devices are lovingly and meticulously made with stainless steel, titanium and other and other high-tech materials including costly sapphire crystal screens. What's sort of surprising, is that the brand seems content to represent itself with a basic cell-phone image blown up in the window. We don't doubt that there is a customer for a luxury mobile device, but in a moment when even the most luddite-minded among us are anticipating the newest iPhone, who uses a regular cell-phone anymore? Considering the rapid cycle of technological advancement when it comes to mobile communications, even the wealthy and extravagant among us seem unwilling to invest in anything more than a top-of-the-line iPhone that they fully expect to replace in a couple of years at the most. For example, highly touted designer mobile devices from the likes of Prada and Giorgio Armani failed here when no U.S. carrier cared to support them. Vertu devices, are sold unlocked, but at those prices, who would care about a two year contract discount?
Out of five models featured on the Vertu website, only one appears to have a Blackberry-like configuration that would facilitate texting and email (The Constellation Quest, $8,400), But while it seems like most of New York seems dependent on touch screen, app-filled iPhones and Android devices, even this bauble looks hopelessly outdated.
And yet, Vertu is set to open at 703 Madison Avenue this Fall, so there must be something about the brand that we don't know. Could somebody explain?