Where is the world going to get its $10,000+ phones now? Vertu, which incredibly started off as a Nokia experiment, has reached the end of its long, strange road. After a tumultuous 2017, the luxury phone maker has closed down and is liquidating assets in the face of debts totaling over £100 million, with 200 jobs lost.
While Vertu started off as a Nokia brand — which partially explains an affinity for brick feature phones that lasted way past its expiration date — a big selling point has always been that they’ve been handmade in England with the finest of materials. Gold of all levels of karats, precious gems, crystals, leather from a zoo’s worth of animals, every precious metal you’ve heard of and some you haven’t — Vertu threw everything at their phones in order to price many of them at well over £10,000.
Mind, these phones weren’t exactly technological marvels. In the early days, they were mostly Nokia-like feature phones that by the 2010s were several generations behind the state of the art. Vertu eventually expanded into Android phones, but with hardware that never matched up to the best of the best, the phones ended up being short-lived in their usefulness despite all the exterior extravagance.
After its start at Nokia, Vertu changed hands often. Most recently, it was sold from Gary Chen of China to Hakan Uzan, a Turkish exile living in Paris. Uzan tried to wipe away the company’s £128 million debt with a £1.9 million offer to creditors — an offer that was rejected. Uzan will now oversee the liquidation of the brand, all while being sued by the previous owner, Chen, who claims Uzan hasn’t paid what he agreed to pay. Uzan is retaining rights to the brand name for now.
Whoever ends up owning the shell of Vertu won’t have anything of value. Vertu, which boasted of handcrafted phones (handcrafted frames with hardware assembled like any other phone), was reportedly undercut by aftermarket services that would happily add bling to existing phones, allowing those living the life of luxury to just have insanely resplendent iPhones instead. Even that model might not be good enough — lest we forget, Apple themselves did make a $17,000 18-karat gold Apple Watch, and from what we’re hearing, they might not be too shy about making more and more expensive iPhones, either.
Via BBC News