Luxury phones are well known for their use of exotic or precious materials, hand crafted construction, exorbitant price tags and typically awful underlying hardware.
One of the biggest names in the trade has been Vertu, the UK-based Nokia offshoot founded in 1998, whose handsets can now be found going for hundreds, if not thousands in places such as the world famous Harrods store in London. It seems that the 'new Nokia' which materialised between Mobile World Congress and Nokia World last year, has decided it’s time to cut the ancillary company loose and sell it on to a new owner.
Having berated the luxury phone ethos of expensive price tag, cheap performance, Vertu have been one company that to a degree, twisted convention. Sure a number of their handsets were nothing more than old feature phones wrapped in gold, but with handsets like the Constellation Quest and Constellation T, Vertu made use of some capable Nokia underpinnings.
With Nokia’s progression away from Symbian as their primary OS (with the exception of their Asha lineup) and the expansion of their Windows Phone portfolio, the company has sourced EQT VI; one part of a northern European private equity firm, to be the new recipients of Vertu.
Nokia will maintain a 10% share in the Vertu brand, but EQT VI will have been sold the remainder for an undisclosed amount when the deal closes in the latter half of 2012. EQT VI’s intentions and the future of the 1000-strong company are uncertain, but we expect to see continued growth from the luxury phone brand, whether they rely on Nokia or not.