Vertu Launches The £7,000 Smartphone
A luxury hand-made smartphone, worth a whopping £7,000, has been launched by a British firm.
Vertu, which is based and employs 1,000 people in Hampshire, released the Ti following three years of sales growth and global expansion.
Its hefty price-tag is mainly due to a titanium-case, and a screen made of sapphire, which is only "one step down from the diamond, in terms of hardness".
The company used to be part of Nokia until it was sold to private equity outfit EQT last year.
Chief executive Perry Oosting told Sky News: "This is a new category, if you compare to a lot of other luxury categories that are established, so we are still at the beginning stage.
He added: "Today we do up to almost £300m in revenue so in a way we have created a new segmentation in a relatively new category."
Mr Oosting also said that sales mainly come from Asia, adding: "From a demographic point of view, our customers are mainly male, and Asia is an important market.
"Europe is our second market, main cities are London, Paris, Milan and the third is eastern Europe together with the Middle East."
Vertu's global sales turnover rose for the third consecutive year in 2012, continuing a trend that has seen sales grow every year since 2002, except in 2009.
The phone claims to have specially-tuned "symphonic sound" and a virtually scratch-proof screen.
It also has a "concierge" button which connects the user to a team providing "curated benefits and services" around the clock.
Rahul Sharma, retail analyst at Neev Capital, said: "Luxury goods have seen three years of extraordinary growth with the sector growing nearly 15%.
"This is in small part due to a recovery in consumption by the wealthy in the West, but the lion's share of growth has come from the sector's exposure to wealth in emerging markets.
"In China, the Middle East and much of the emerging world, these brands are hugely aspirational and as wealth increases there, consumption of luxury gods is increasing sharply.
"That said, this is no longer a rising tide floating all boats. The Chinese are maturing much faster than their Western peers and preferring either iconic, exclusive product (Hermes, Dior) or newness (Prada).
"This is perhaps why some logo-centric brands like Louis Vuitton, Burberry have seen much sharper slowdowns than other brands."
He also added: "It's ironic that Vertu comes out with this on the day Hermes (one of the most iconic and expensive brands in luxury goods) reports record-breaking results.
"Hermes' Q4 sales grew at their fastest pace of 2012, despite slowing macro economic data. Hermes sales were especially strong in emerging Asia and in the US."