China Is Vertu’s Largest Market
For its new ultra-luxury TI handset, Vertu has dropped Nokia’s Symbian OS in favor of Android, a move that seems at least partially informed by the brand’s largest single market, China. By far the world’s most popular smartphone operating system, with well over 60 percent of global market share, compared to around 20 for Apple, Android is particularly dominant in China, where it is installed in 90 percent of mobile devices.
Boasting advanced features like a scratch-resistant sapphire screen, titanium frame, “symphonic sound, tuned in collaboration with Bang & Olufsen,” an eight-megapixel camera, and 64 gigabytes of memory, the made-in-England handset also features a jaw-dropping US$11,000 price tag. However, with its comparatively small screen and lack of 4G functionality, the TI is definitely geared more towards the smartphone user more interested in status than specs.
Though sales have been consistent in the China market for Vertu, the question remains whether the country’s current crackdown on luxury advertising, official spending and corruption, conspicuous consumption and gift-giving will hurt the prospects for the company’s newest handset. Currently, Vertu has points of sale or boutiques in 32 mainland Chinese cities, among them nascent second- and third-tier luxury markets like Zhengzhou, Guiyang, and Jinan.
As with virtually every luxury segment, many Chinese buyers (particularly those concerned with privacy and the Mainland’s high luxury taxes) will likely continue to purchase their Vertu handsets overseas or in Hong Kong or Macau.