Vertu may add media tablets to its exclusive gem-laden phones

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 October, 2010, 12:00am

With Apple's iPad driving worldwide demand for media tablets, could the industry have room for more expensive models hand-crafted with precious metals and jewels, and sold to an exclusive clientele?

Perry Oosting, president of market-leading luxury mobile phone maker Vertu, said the company is pondering the possibilities.

'We're very open and it's something we need to look at more closely,' Oosting told the South China Morning Post. 'We want to understand better what consumers are using it for.'

He said Vertu, a unit of Finnish mobile phone giant Nokia that is run independently, 'will not simply jump on a bandwagon and adopt a technology for technology's sake'.

The company, for example, took a couple of years before it decided to introduce its first luxury 3G smartphone - the Constellation Quest, which it launched last night in Hong Kong. Prices for its Symbian operating system-based smartphone start from Euro5,500 (HK$58,700).

The media tablet bandwagon is certainly growing. In a report released this month, market research firm Gartner forecast global media tablet sales to surpass 208 million units in 2014, marking a significant rise from 54.8 million units next year and 19.5 million units this year.

'Media tablets have much more in common with a smartphone than a personal computer,' Carolina Milanesi, research vice-president at Gartner, said. 'It is about running applications, playing games, watching video content, reading e-books and magazines, surfing the Web, updating your status on your social network of choice, and checking e-mail.'

Milanesi expects the market to 'soon be flooded by a whole bunch of different models that will offer a variety of operating systems, feature sets, price points and screen sizes'.

While Vertu is keeping its options open on the media tablet category, Oosting said its priority is developing 'our interpretation of the technology' to best serve the needs of its affluent customer base.