Vertu Unveils Luxury, Android Smartphone on sale

Luxury phone maker Vertu is embracing Google’s Android operating system – for the low price of $10,000.

The company this week unveiled the Vertu Ti, a phone that will abandon the Symbian OS upon which Vertu has relied thus far in favor of Android. But even for $10,000, you won’t get the most recent version of Android. The Vertu Ti will run Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich rather than Jelly Bean.

“Vertu Ti is our most significant product for a decade. Android 4.0 delivers a proven and intuitive environment for users while the design and craftsmanship of the handset remain uniquely Vertu,” Perry Oosting, Vertu president, and CEO said in a statement. “Vertu has pioneered and led the luxury mobile phone sector since we began in the late 90s and the great depth of our knowledge and experience can be seen in Vertu Ti.”

Vertu posted a video (below) of the new device on its Facebook page. It touted the “flawless optical quality of the sapphire crystal screen,” as well as “the lightness of the titanium casing,” which provides “strength without compromise.”
The Vertu Ti includes musical punctuation from the London Symphony Orchestra, while the audio was developed in collaboration with Bang & Olufsen.

A new Vertu key, meanwhile, provides access to “our unique curated services.” A screenshot showed screens for Life, Concierge, and Certainty before flashing to a welcome screen that showed the phone’s owner options for the Kee Club in Hong Kong and Apollo Premiere at the Bolshoi in Moscow. Presumably, the Vertu Ti will operate as your own personal butler – with some suggestions that are a bit more high-brow than the neighborhood dive bar.

The Vertu Ti includes a 3.7-inch WVGA display, an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera, and 1.3-megapixel front-facing one. There is 64GB of internal memory, and Vertu promised up to 7.2 hours of talk time.

The phone ships with a leather slipcase, chargers for the car and wall, data cables, a portable power pack, wired stereo headset, Micro and Nano SIM adapters, an “authenticity card,” and more.

With the Vertu Ti – which was handmade in England, the company said – “nothing will ever feel the same,” Vertu concluded.

Vertu was previously owned by Nokia, but the Finnish phone maker sold Vertu to EQT VI, a European private equity firm, in June 2012. Nokia has also been shifting away from Symbian, which has seen its global market share dwindle in recent months.

Vertu’s sudden CEO swap spells trouble after Chinese buyout

  • It’s only been three months since we met Vertu replica then freshly-appointed CEO Billy Crotty, an Irishman who was brought in by the company’s new Chinese owner, but for reasons unknown, it appears that he’s already left the luxury phone maker. That’s according to the LinkedIn page of Gordon Watson, who has since been promoted from VP of Sales and Marketing to CEO. Needless to say, it’s an unusually short stint for such an important role, though there were already signs of trouble beforehand with the recent departures of other key execs.

    A quick search on the web shows that since Crotty’s appointment back in October, Vertu had already lost its COO, VP Product & Marketing, Brand & Marketing Director and, most recently, the Regional Head of Sales in the Middle East — a key market for Vertu. Bizarrely, most of these positions have yet to be filled, the risk of which is probably akin to sailing a dinghy through a wild storm sans navigation.

  • We can’t help but worry that Vertu’s Chinese owner, Godin Holdings, has something to do with this seeming vacuum in its executive team. In our previous interview, Crotty vowed to keep Vertu’s manufacturing base in the UK, as it was apparently “one of the principal reasons why Godin invested in and acquired” this eccentric company. With him and the other key execs gone, we do wonder if this promise will no longer be kept? And does the new Vertu have what it takes to tackle the declining luxury market until it recovers later this year? That will be the big challenge for Watson.