Titanium, sapphire and calfskin are what you need to make the most expensive phones in the world according to Vertu who should know as this is what they produce. Each phone is assembled by hand – there are no production lines and it takes about two hours per device. Each craftsman places their name on the inside of the phone and it is not uncommon for customers to come meet them in person. This by the way is not unlike what happens in the supercar world where the craftsman who makes engines for the Nissan GT-R will also place his name on the engine.
The company was once a part of Nokia – its luxury arm but has since split off which is likely good for its customers who don’t want to be associated with a mainstream brand which is struggling thanks to Apple, Samsung and Google.
Vertu now has embraced Android and CEO Mark Pogliani suggests that now that the company is not linked to Nokia technology they have more freedom and flexibility.
Some differentiators company espouses are that the phones are made not in Asia but rural England, the screens can only be scratched by a diamond and you can design your own custom phone if you have the means.
The company’s latest phone is more “affordable” at $6,700 and is known as Constellation. Colleague Tony Rizzo calls the higher-end Ti phone which starts around $10,000 the stupidest smartphone on the market. Similar to the iPhone C the Constellation will come in a variety of colors. And that is not where the comparison to Apple ends. Each time Apple rolls out a new product in fact it seems to make them more and more like jewelry. Moreover, Apple has shown they have really perfected the manufacturing process to the point where the quality of their assembly line is getting very close if not superior to some handmade products.
This means there will be increasing pressure on Vertu to improve – they will always be differentiated in the market because of their brand name, cost and exclusivity but the challenge from Cupertino is very real and will likely keep Vertu as a niche player in the space.