Vertu, a status symbol phone for the wealthy elite in Russia, China and the Middle East, will now be using the Android platform for its new luxury phone.
The Vertu Ti starts at $10,000 and is likely the most expensive Android handset available, according to the Wall Street Journal. Nokia sold the company to a Swedish private equity firm last year but still retained 10 percent ownership. Because it was no longer beholden to Nokia's Symbian operating system or its new Windows Phone platform, Vertu decided to use the more popular Android 4.0, also known as Ice Cream Sandwich. Vertu said it preferred Android for its "richer mobile ecosystem and greater options for customization."
Vertu, which is based in Hampshire, England, offers phones up to $300,000 that are often laden with calfskin, alligator, diamonds or other jewels. Each device is assembled by hand, offers a concierge service and can be purchased in only 500 retail locations, according to BBC News. Its luxury market has just 326,000 smartphone owners after 10 years of operation.
The six-ounce Vertu Ti is encased in titanium, ceramic and leather and it is heavier than most smartphones, but it's created for durability -- including surviving being run over by a delivery truck. One was run over by a delivery truck and it remained in one piece and working.
Apparently the luxury electronics market is a niche one, but one that proves to be profitable. While Vertu is the most well-known, other companies such as Tag Heuer and Goldvish are entering the fray to court the wealthy. This isn't about the cutting edge of electronics but about having a handset that tells the world you can afford a $100,000, sapphire-encrusted accessory.