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Gadgets & Home Improvement

Vertu picks Android

Released from the chains which once bound it to Nokia's Symbian operating system, luxury phone maker Vertu was free to choose between the Google Android and Microsoft Windows Phone operating systems for its new smartphone.
The Straits Times - March 15, 2013
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Vertu picks Android

"We explored both possibilities, and we chose Android because it is intuitive and a great enabler of the services we deliver with our phones," said Vertu's chief marketing officer, Mr Massimiliano Pogliani.

Android's strong market share and robust ecosystem were the key considerations that made the choice an easy one, he said, adding: "Choosing Android over Windows Phone was not a matter of distinguishing ourselves from Nokia. We chose Android because it is readily available and easy to use."

When it was a wholly owned subsidiary of Nokia, London-based Vertu was limited to the Finnish company's product line-up and design. Its smartphones, such as the Vertu Constellation Quest that resembled a Nokia E72, had to use the outdated Symbian operating system.

After Nokia sold all but 10 per cent of Vertu to the private equity firm EQT VI last October, Vertu returned to the drawing board and deliberated between the two operating systems.

With Android, it was free to customise a more personalised app for the 24/7 concierge service it offers all users of its phones.

"We added live chat to our concierge service. You can also register your profile that lists your preferences, so that we can follow up and improve our services," said Mr Pogliani.

These premium phones are also the ticket to exclusive events and even a personal bodyguard service. Such services were available with Vertu's earlier Symbian devices. "But the user experience was not easy and engaging," said Mr Pogliani.

While its voice-only Vertu Signature phones are popular with its customers, they had to use a separate smartphone for e-mail messaging.

The Vertu Ti solves that problem. Powered by modest hardware, which includes a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core 1.7GHz processor, it has an 8-megapixel camera and a 3.7-inch display with a screen resolution of 480 x 800 pixels. This smartphone is a vast improvement over its predecessors.

"With the Vertu Ti, they can use a Vertu phone as the sole device that satisfies their personal and professional needs," Mr Pogliani said. "Previously, you get the feeling that you spend a lot of money for a phone that does not do everything. Now, it's different," he added.

What sets the Ti apart from other smartphones is the use of premium materials, such as the scratch-proof sapphire crystal screen, a pair of Bang & Olufsen speakers and its titanium body.

And its price.

The basic Vertu Ti costs $13,000. That can easily get you 10 of the newest high-end Android models.

But the hardware is only a part of the Vertu experience, insists MrPogliani.

"You do not buy a Vertu just for the technical aspects. It is a relationship, like any other luxury brand. For example, you don't buy an expensive watch just to know what time it is," he said.

The Vertu Ti runs on the older Android operating system Ice Cream Sandwich. An update to Jelly Bean has been planned.

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