Vertu, the luxury European phone maker, has been the object of a great deal of scrutiny lately. With news that Nokia -- its parent company -- is looking to offload the purposeless, opulent manufacturer, the tech community has had renewed interest in the oft-forgotten luxury company.
Vertu, to me, is emblematic of an aging misconception of the mobile phone industry.
Vertu came into existence in 1998 when the European market was flooded with Nokia brick phones, and unimaginative product designs. Vertu attempted to put a spin on this dullish industry with opulent and elaborate designs. A little glamour would certainly set mobile phone users apart at a time when there were few differences from handset to handset, right? Sure, why not.
The trouble is that phones have become complex computing devices, not over-the-top accessories. These phones are barren and expensive. Yes, you can have a concierge service, but is that really what you want from your phone? Surely there would be better outlets for such luxurious service?
What's most troubling is that Vertu is a profitable business. It's a highly targeted product line, but it is also built upon a poorly conceived concept -- one that is entirely irrelevant in the modern mobile phone marketplace. Insofar as it's successful, it is emblematic of a truly worrying state of affairs in the modern world.
The mere fact that Vertu exists is disappointing, but knowing that people buy their products is just sad.