Vertu launched the Vertu Ti a month ago, and the most luxurious model is priced at HK$167,000. What is it about the Ti that would entice consumers to pay so much more than other smartphones?
Vertu Ti is our most rounded product. It combines an elegant and contemporary design philosophy with our fundamentals of craftsmanship and services and the Android OS. The price is justified by the fact that Vertu is a premium product. The price reflects the excellence of design, premium materials and craftsmanship used to create this luxury phone.
Luxury products are created from better materials, with a greater degree of hand craftsmanship than mainstream products, and Vertu is no different. Just as a Ferrari needs to be understood as more than just being engine, wheels and seats, we produce products that transcend what is normally expected from a mobile device.
Everyone has something they can justify as a luxury - a product that [looks different or performs in a different way] and that says something about the owner. This may be a car, a watch or a Vertu.
How significant a role do Hong Kong, the mainland and Macau play in your business strategy?
A. Greater China plays a significant role in our strategy, as do other regions, such as Europe and Russia. In 2012, Greater China accounted for 43 per cent of our sales. The Vertu customer is global, affluent and discerning. They tend to be interested in design, art and culture. They are entrepreneurial in spirit and successful in whatever they do, so we do not pigeonhole specific regions by cultures and tastes.
In an industry where consumers regularly upgrade their phones, offering the latest technology is of paramount importance. How does Vertu achieve this balance between luxury and technology?
Vertu has never been about winning a technological race with mainstream manufacturers but, rather, using the best available hardware and software to create a robust, fully rounded product for our customers.
Technology is just one facet of the Vertu brand, sitting alongside craftsmanship and design, materials and service. It takes time to build a durable, high-quality product, something that is critical for Vertu.
The brand also offers a bespoke service. How aggressively do you promote it, and what specific features can you custom-make?
While there have been instances of customised products for customers using precious metals and stones, Vertu's core offering is a range of handcrafted, stylish, practical and well-engineered products priced to reflect the design and materials that have gone into each one.
Vertu has collaborated with other luxury brands before, including Ferrari and fashion house Ermenegildo Zegna. Will Vertu continue to work with these brands, and will we see collaborations with other big names in the luxury sector?
We expect to continue our collaborations on limited-edition models with Ferrari, Ermenegildo Zegna and entrepreneur Lapo Elkann, the president of design firm Italia Independent.
What are some of the exciting new projects you have planned?
A. We have a strong product road map ahead. We will launch our next smartphone model with the latest Android platform by the end of this year. We will also [produce another model] with Elkann at the start of next year. Our overall aim is to be more aggressive in our campaigns and expansion efforts this year.