Nokia offloads luxury arm Vertu

Nokia has divested itself of its ownership of luxury mobile phone brand Vertu as part of its wide-ranging restructuring programme.

So where does that leave Vertu, the phone manufacturer famous for diamond-studded handsets more capable of emptying the user’s wallet than running useful apps or features? The Next Web reports that the EQT VI private equity firm has acquired most of the company, with Nokia retaining a 10 percent stake. Vertu’s 1,000 employees are set to transfer over to the new company.

It’s not known if Vertu will continue its current line of products. The website features five models at the moment (Ascent, Ayxta, Constellation, Constellation Quest and Signature), each of which exudes an air of ostentation and opulence that somehow seems out of step with the state of the world in 2012. Features include a concierge service, offering around-the-clock assistance, recommendations and priority bookings; City Brief, which offers an in-depth guide on one of over 200 destinations around the world; Vertu Select, a sort of on-phone lifestyle magazine; backup services; a 12-month period of complimentary repair; and 24-hour technical support, free-of-charge.

While some of these features sound fairly handy, there isn’t really anything there – bar the concierge – that can’t be adequately provided by a smartphone app, and personally we’d rather have an iPhone 5 or Nokia Lumia 800 in our pocket than something that costs several times the price while delivering less functionality.

While it’s a given that leather, alligator skin and diamonds on a phone can alert the world to the fact that you’re very wealthy, we suspect a Vertu handset will never be as user-friendly, powerful or versatile as a high-end Android, iOS or Windows smartphone. It should be said here that all Vertu phones run on the Symbian platform, and we suspect that the company’s new masters will need to direct a move to Android or Windows Phone in the near future if they want to become more profitable.

Would you be tempted by a non-Symbian Vertu phone, or do you have too much taste to be seen wielding something so extravagant? Let us know in the comments below.

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