The United Kingdom luxury electronic gadgets market declined by 52% in volume terms and 7% in current value terms in 2012. The decline was attributable to the poor performance of luxury Mp3 players, as the only luxury brand, Bang & Olufsen, withdrew its Mp3 player from the market at the end of 2011. Luxury mobile phones, on the other hand, grew by 8% in volume terms and 9% in current value terms in 2012, a hefty decline from its 15% volume growth and 16% value growth in 2011. Luxury mobile phones are also struggling to compete against mainstream brands such as Apple, as Apple continues to push innovation, style, quality and user-friendliness in each edition.
In April 2012, mobile phone company, Nokia announced its decision to sell Vertu to a private equity company, Permira, which already owned luxury brands such as Hugo Boss and Velentino, for £264 million. The financial firm, Goldman Sachs, helped to advise Nokia on the deal. With the rising popularity of Google Android smartphones, as well as the success of Apple‟s iPhone series, Nokia has felt the sting of a competitive mobile phone market. The divestment will allow Nokia to focus more on its current middle market Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8 OS for its smartphones.
Luxury mobile phones does however, attract a niche audience, as proven by the fact that the popularity of Vertu‟s „James Bond‟ phone, which was used in the 2006 Daniel Craig James Bond film, "Casino Royale", helped to encourage sales. As well as the latest 2011 installment of the Mission Impossible film "Ghost Protocol", which featured Vertu Constellation Quest and Vertu Constellation Ayxt. Also, there are special perks to luxury mobile phones, such as Vertu‟s bespoke Concierge services. These services allow customers to have access to a „customer service centre‟ which can offer almost anything from private security guards to excusive member only clubs, or holiday advice.
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