Vertu Cell Phones (And Why They’re So Amazing)
The homepage of their website boasts a falcon dressed in a slick-grey, Bond-esque suit casually strolling out of his penthouse apartment which overlooks London towards an equally slick private plane. Who’s they you might ask? Oh, no one, just the ultra-luxury cellphone company, Vertu, whose phones retail between $6,000 and $12,000 USD. Crazy, you say? Who would spend so much money on a phone, you say? Well, you’re far from alone, but you also might be wrong.
As Sam Grobart of Bloomberg Businessweek Technology said, “It’s easy to make fun of Vertu… They’re just making bejeweled versions of ordinary smartphones. Their products are gaudy, silly things that offer no functional advantage over an iPhone, a Galaxy S4, or many other smartphones on the market. They are designed for, and purchased by, status-obsessed arrivistes who have more money than sense.”
The “bejeweled” aspect Grobert points out are Vertus unique materials and craftsmanship. From sapphire crystal faces instead of Gorilla Glass to titanium bodies (or gold, or platinum) instead of plastic or aluminum, they certainly cater to people who appreciate the finer things in life.
However, Vertus sales have increased in nine of the past 10 years. Built on an Android platform, the phone is functionally no different or better than any other new Android phone on the market, but that’s not what makes this phone so great. It’s the rarity and uniqueness of having a phone that’s covered in precious metals, diamonds, and rubies. It’s status. And it’s completely customizable.
You start with the surface of the phone. You have a choice between ten colors of alligator skin complemented by either titanium or gold. Then you add your personal engraving. Something like, “I am the 1%” or “Look at me!” would be fitting. You finish it off with another piece of alligator, the protective case.
While it may seem silly to drop so much money on a technologically unspectacular phone, $6,000 for a phone isn’t any more reckless than buying a watch for $20,000. It’s all about tastes. If you have the money and want a phone that shows that, Vertu is for you. As Vertu’s CEO Massimiliano Pogliani said in a recent interview, “If you don’t like wine, spending $5,000 on a bottle of Mouton Rothschild doesn’t make sense to you. These phones will last two to three years, whereas a bottle of wine may last, what, an hour or two? But if you care about this sort of thing, that hour or two is priceless to you. For a person who drinks orange juice and smoothies and Diet Coke, this does not speak to you.”
Does it speak to you? Or are you sticking to orange juice and smoothies?