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Not very Vertu-ous.

Summary: The latest Vertu boasts of a touch screen--doesn't exactly strike you as luxurious does it?

I really have to extend my imagination to appreciate the luxury phone market. You see, I understand the luxury market and I understand technology and the phone market. But the marriage of the two escapes me, quite possibly because I remember quite distinctly of a time when the two were very separate.

Yet, somewhere around the turn of the millennium the luxury phone was born. "Procuring" one (you could not 'buy' a Vertu, you could only 'procure' a Vertu) could set you back anywhere between Dh15,000 to Dh100,000. You'd imagine that after spending all of that money you'd end up with the best technology money can buy, but it was quite the opposite. TIME magazine best captured the luxury phone in its review of Nokia owned Finnish phone Vertu: "Vertu is an old phone in a shiny new suit."

This begs the question: what is luxury by Nokia's definition? If Vertu's previous collections are anything to go by, I'd say Nokia equates luxury to standard features and old-world tradition (read: basic and archaic).

After all, the earliest Vertus had the same software in a basic Nokia 3310 (geez, remember those?) but were cased in fancy stainless steel, gold, white gold and platinum bodies. On top of that, the phone had a scratch-proof sapphire face and each keypad was fixed with ruby bearings. The earliest Vertus didn't aspire to do anything beyond make and receive phone calls and text messages.

Which is why the recent launch of the Vertu Constellation is particularly interesting. Why? Because even though the company still chose to run the phone on Symbian (even after Nokia has dismissed the OS for their latest phones), the Vertu Constellation marks the team going "touch screen" which is a decided move away from the company's 'sticking to the basics' mantra. This could be an indication of Vertu's management finally realising that fans of luxury are just as tech-savvy as the rest of us and even want to be the first to adopt the latest technology.

And with the smartphone market growing at an increasingly rapid rate, I can't help but wonder just how far will Vertu betray it ethos in its endeavor to stay relevant?

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Date:Nov 9, 2011
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