Behold! Vertu's $200 USB cable

Did you know that Nokia has a "luxury" subsidiary that makes phones for stupid rich people?

As the European cellular industry's supernumerary nipple, Vertu has long specialized in calculator-display brickphones that look like dragon poo rolled in gemstones. It oozes along the dried slugtrail of progress, having just announced its first touchscreen Symbian handset--sure to be an LG Prada-killer!

In spite of its claim to be the "pinnacle of mobile phone excellence worldwide," the sad reality of Vertu's obsolete junk shows how alien the gadget business is to sellers of luxury. Technology's R&D-driven elements of quality and credibility are now so fast-changing as to be inaccessible to them. Even the most clueless class aspirant appreciates the power that new technology exerts over traditional tokens of extrinsic self-worth; it's better to just get a gold case for a standard-issue iPhone.

Though the company's future is uncertain--Nokia is reportedly trying to offload it--Vertu still understands the communication needs of oil wives and drug dealers better than anyone. Pictured above is the "Data Cable", featuring "High Speed USB 2.0", on offer for $190. With tax and shipping, that'll head well over $200 for a cable you can buy at monoprice for $2. Talk about charging what the market will bear!

Even a standard lithium-ion battery will set you back $90.

The V Collection Bluetooth Headset at least has the same unique, vaguely-80s design as the handsets themselves; but what could be more illustrative of the "invisible clothing" problem than its $790 price tag? Apart from the $1300 cases with names like "Signature Precious".


  1. The price of an object is not determined by development and manufacturing costs, as many want you to believe, but by the amount, the customer is willing to pay.

      1. One of my friends corrected me the other day when I said “6 members of the Walton family have the same net worth as the bottom 30% of American families combined.”

        She suggested something more like “6 members of the Walton family have as much cash as the bottom 30% of American families combined.”
        Because the word “worth” has a moral connotation of value that goes beyond just having money.  Such as “You are worthy. ”

        How we talk about the ultra-rich says a lot about our society.

        1. Net worth is not the same as cash. IIRC, net worth is the value of a person’s assets (cash, property, shares in some business venture, etc.) minus any debts.
          A better way to say it would be “6 members of the Walton family have the same net assets as the bottom 30% of American families combined.”

          1. To avoid technical/financial terms, how about: “6 members of the Walton family have as much money as the bottom 30% of American families combined.”

            Also: “6 members of the Walton family have as much government-protected free speech as the bottom 30% of American families combined.”

    1. The fact that “Struggling Nokia sells luxury brand” remains a fantasy-headline suggests that Vertu’s not so hot at figuring out what the customer is willing to pay.

    2. More data here to back up that wealth is not automatically indicative of  intelligence or good judgment.

    3. Are you sure this is about “The Wealthy”? In this situation, I believe they are more like a sub-group. The primary group would be people who are addicted to “nice things”, not just shopping. I worked in a high end gift shop for two years. It amazed me that many (women) were more than happy to pay $1800 dollars for a silk track suit ($90) but not buy the exact same one on sale. 

      Yes, there are people who don’t want to appear they can’t afford something. These people won’t use club cards, coupons, gift cards, or purchase anything on sale. They won’t purchase anything invisibly too. They won’t unitize drive-thru’s and avoid online purchases. 

      What we are talking about is the base form of virtual money, it’s here. The purchaser really believes that the more something cost’s the better it works, that financial input equals quality output. Some men would prefer to spend $200 on a $2 whore. 

      Speaking of whores, for some of you bible readers, this is exactly what that story about Sodom and Gomorrah, the twin whores,  is all about.  People literally throwing their money away, when there’s someone right next to them who need it. Take the cable for instance, the same money could buy 90, 89 for others who don’t have one. God is pissed, it’s all about bread and fish magically appearing, as it would be with 89 extra cables.

  2. I’m just relieved to know that the money spent on these items will somehow magically trickle down to me.  Thank you, rich people!

    1. Everyone knows money evaporates after you spend it. Why do you think they have to keep printing more?

    2. Not magically, but yes, if people buy this thing close to where you live some minuscule share of that money will trickle down to you. Better than keeping it in a savings account or some shady investment scheme. Selling high-margin retail items is a Good Thing(tm) for your community.

      (What’s with the rich hate lately? Figure out a way to sell them expensive crap if you wanna get back at them!)

      1. The amount of money one is willing to spend on something reflects the amount of effort one has put into earning that money. A willingness to spend $200 on a USB cable demonstrates that some people can effortlessly obtain such a sum. Considering that 1.1 billion people live on less than $1 a day, this is indicative of a fundamentally and intentionally corrupted asset allocation system. Hence the “hate”.

        1. So where do you draw the line? Millions of “normal” people spend thousands of dollars on a shiny new 50″ TV or buy thousands of dollars worth of Starbucks coffee every year (those $5 every weekday add up!). Those are things I would never spend my money on “effortlessly,” yet I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

          1. The line must be drawn elsewhere. This is a symptom of a broken system, not a cause thereof. The problem is not with the existence of expensive products, nor with people purchasing expensive products, but with the existence of products that are expensive for the sole purpose of being expensive.

            Thus, the relevant line of inquiry becomes about the nature of the mechanisms that allow some people to earn $200 effortlessly while others profoundly struggle to earn the same, and whether these mechanisms are in-keeping with free market principles or whether they corrupt and subvert them.

          2. So… blame the system, not rich people? That’s something I can live with but quite different from the venomous prose spewed here.

          3. Your attempt to evoke pity on behalf of the sort of person who is willing and able to throw away that kind of money on that kind of junk is noted.

          4. Who’s talking about pity? Nice strawman though.

            Those who blast people more affluent than them for their consumption choices (that hurt precisely nobody) risk being called hypocrites by those less affluent than them, that’s all. I don’t call you “stupid” (as per the article) for buying a car or a Starbucks coffee, even though I consider that frivolous spending for myself.

            If you’re in a developed country, there’s always somebody waaay less wealthy than yourself who considers your lifestyle choices utter luxury and incomprehensible. Better to stop judging other people and just live your life.

            Again, spending money (and a lot of money if you have it) is good for the economy — and you — and much better than not spending it. (Better distribution of wealth or higher taxes for the super-rich would of course be even better, but that’s not gonna happen anytime soon, so I say find ways to get them to spend their money on consumer goods and pump it back into the system.)

          5. Welcome to the world! Where, yes, we do actually make value decisions, and slippery slopes really don’t slope forever.

      2. “yes, if people buy this thing close to where you live some minuscule share of that money will trickle down to you. Better than keeping it in a savings account or some shady investment scheme. Selling high-margin retail items is a Good Thing(tm) for your community.

        (What’s with the rich hate lately?”Because of people with a deceptive understanding of economics justifying our miniscule return on massive tax exemptions for these horrid corporations.

      1. It’s not alt text, but filenames transposed automatically to the title attribute by WordPress. So you can stop complaining about our hypothetical abuse of alt text in favor of complaining about our failure to use alt text in the first place.

  3. Ah, that’s nothing. Lambo have a $600 USD phone call the Evoluzione in Singapore that’s really lame spec-wise. Tag Hauer has a $5000 Android phone, and Ulysse Nardin Chairman is a $25000 (yes, TWENTY-FIVE THOUSAND) dollar lame Android phone (that also comes with a huge charge stand/display case.

  4. $200 is of little consequence to owners of stuff like this. You are not their target market. No one is getting scammed. And isn’t this phone like ten years old by now? You’re still this bitter about it?

  5. I geuse rich people live in some sort of weird bubble where everybody has crap phones and pays too much for them.
    Imagine if they had a non rich friend who showed them a normal, modern smart phone, it would blow their mind.

    1. And yet, people still buy coffee at Starbucks.  If they only had normal friends, who showed them how to brew coffee and exert  a little self-control.  

      1. Did you get a lump of coal in your stocking this year? Because you have been hella cranky lately.

        1. I  just gotta love these middle-class  sensibilities.  “Oh noes, people spend 200$ on a cable.  And they do not care about this.” 

          Personally, I like it that someone makes a $180 cut on this stuff.

          1. See, the thing is that they’re not. Celebrities are more often seen with blinged-out iPhones than stuff like this. That’s the point: Vertu’s market lives in a bubble so small that even other rich people don’t buy it.

          2. Someone who makes a $180 cut on a USB cable is as much a piece of shit as those who buy them, and the system benefits not at all from their existence.

          3. “I  just gotta love these middle-class  sensibilities. ”
            There’s nothing more middle-classed than your nouveau riche exuberance, or the cargo cult capitalism that you’re espousing here.

        2. In days of old and coal was used in homes, it is reasonable to imagine children were extra wicked all year in hopes of receiving useful coal instead of wishful toys from Santa or even Krampus. Or so I imagine.

      2. Can you stop with this nonsense please? I’m Italian and I use a moka, but as good as I am with it, the coffee it makes will never be as good as something brewed by high-pressure coffee machines you’ll find at any cafe when operated by a decent professional (which you can still find at some Starbucks). 

        Besides, ground coffee is so overpriced, I can grow it in my pod and it costs only a few cents. Oh, and shall I also bake those cakes? If your time and attention is worth enough, drinking overpriced coffee can still be a smarter economic choice than wasting it on doing everything on your own.

        1. Why yes, and the same holds true for people who can afford these 200$ cables.    

          Lots of people who make this in a minute. 

          1. that is an absolutely ridiculous false equivocation.  Quality and convenience are valuable things to people.  But this $200 USB cable has NO appreciable advantage to it over a $2 one. 

          2. I’m not sure that I fully understand how these laughable pieces of crap are easier to buy than, say, a better phone that your assistant can grab on his lunch break at virtually any store in the country.

          3. “Why yes, and the same holds true for people who can afford these 200$ cables. ”

            The convenience charge of a local 7/11 or starbucks versus cheaper is not the same as paying 400X what you could pick up an iphone charger for. That’s just absurdly stupid.

        2. I have never ever had anything other than great coffee in Italy. I have never ever had anything but bilge water from Starbucks, I’d rather drink instant coffee, heck I’d rather drink chicory coffee than ever suffer Starbucks again.
          And yet, people still buy coffee at Starbucks.  If they only had normal friends, who showed them a decent coffee house.
          Might work better for you. (Or maybe it’s just me)

          1. @google-9b1956a71f731854c88308094ddb5fc3:disqus that’s not possible, Starbucks does not exist in Italy, they are actively avoiding the market (although there have been rumours that a store might open in Milan at some point). I don’t doubt it could happen, I have several Italian friends who run to Starbucks as soon as they land in Britain.

            Starbucks is not the best chain around for coffee quality (in the UK that would be Costa, among the big ones), but it’s not as terrible as it’s often painted.

      3. I don’t have a discriminating palette, except when it comes to coffee. I much prefer Starbucks, Seattle’s Best, or Biggby coffee bought at their store. The brewing process, and the beans, are much better than store brand or major brand (i.e. Folger’s) coffee. In second place is buying beans from Starbucks and brewing it at home. In a distant third place is “regular” beans brewed at home. Disregarding all the sugar and cream in the Starbucks coffees, they are still superior to anything else. But I don’t buy them much due to price. 

      4. Sorry, but that’s just dumb. People (at least the people that I know) don’t pay Starbucks’ mark-up because the mechanics of pressing a button on a Krups coffeemaker is somehow beyond them. The added value is the convenience, particularly when they’re out on the road.

        Rob’s point here, which you seem to have missed, is that there is no such conceivable added value here. They’re not even trying to justify the markup with a lot of audiophile-style gibberish about how it makes the phone sound better or something.

        1. What you call “added value”, I call frivolous spending, 

          More importantly, you miss the point. I wasn’t replying to Rob, I’m replying to Fredrerik.  

          The clientele for this cable doesn’t really distinguish between $2 and $200.  The convenience to shop where they usually shop is far greater than the measly 190 $ they could save. 

          1. I am not sure I understand your argument. Why is it more convenient to access the Vertu website than, say, the Radio Shack website? Also, who is more likely to be purchasing a USB cord: the billionaire CEO of a corporation or illicit drug empire, or someone in his employ? So what does convenience have to do with it?

          2. @davidasposted:disqus  Because the Vertu website has already the user dara and can be trusted not to disclose the user’s data. I wouldn’t trust Radio Shack, if I were a millionaire.
            Same applies if an employee is supposed to buy the cable. He or she can’t do wrong with a Vertu-certified cable (at least in theory) and doesn’t gain from buying cheaper, as she/he can’t pocket the difference. 

          3. “Because the Vertu website has already the user dara and can be trusted not to disclose the user’s data. I wouldn’t trust Radio Shack, if I were a millionaire.”

            Uh, they still have to go through Verizon, AT&T, or whatever other carrier.

      5. Not the same.  You don’t buy coffee at Starbucks for the status of buying coffee at Starbucks.  You buy it for a combination of factors, generally convenience being the highest, then taste.  This phone’s accessories are not appreciably better than their equivalents that cost tiny, tiny fractions.  And the issue here, from the beginning, hasn’t  been “why are idiots buying this stuff?” it’s “people don’t seem to BE buying this stuff.  Why is Nokia still trying to sell it?”

  6. You have to remember the kind of people who buy these phones, would never read the manual or even use fancy features on the phone unless they were super easy to use, they really just want a phone, and all they see is classy leather covers and sleek lines. 

    The fact that it doesn’t run all the right android apps is a matter of supreme indifference to them, frankly I’m surprised they even made any with touch screens, for any other reason than that the person could say yes their phone was touch screen, and what do they do with this touch screen well they touch it to answer the phone.

    I think the leather is a nice touch, though I can’t see myself paying just for that.

  7. Before the LG Prada and iPhone, there were a fair number of people I’ve seen talking on these dumb-phones in HK and Singapore. If I was an asian hedge fund manager, I’d rather spend my money on cognac and blow. A mate of mine also said they were seriously popular in Russia with the top-tier. 

    Something tells me the struggling Bang & Olufsen should just bedazzle and over-design all their stuff and charge three times the price. Possibly the only somewhat worthwhile feature of Vertu was the concierge service which had its own hot button. But if you had Amex (esp. Centurion) why bother?

    1. Struggling Bang & Olufsen should fire the designers that haven’t made an interesting, modern or elegant design in 10 years. Seriously, the products they’ve made in the last two to three years look like they’ve been designed as part of their late 1990s series.

      1. Yep, the days of Jacob Jensen and 80-90’s David Lewis works are well behind them. I mean they’re discontinuing the BeoSound 9000!

        However, they’ve still got some great new works in the audio and loudspeaker department. Thankfully they got rid of their dumb-phone line.

  8. It’s not about having the best phones. It’s about having the phones that YOU can’t get. It seems absurd because most people aren’t driven insane by an urge to feel superior.

    It took me a long time to realize that the sort of people who amass huge fortunes and live the jet set lifestyle do so not because they’re better, but because they NEED to live that way. Painters need to paint, writers need to write and the elitists need totems of wealth to determine their self-worth.

  9. Kinda reminds me of the Oppo Blu-Ray player, which runs for about $500, and the Lexicon player for around $3500.  Some investigative geeks bought a Lexicon, cracked it open, and behold, it was an Oppo on the inside!

  10. From the old 2003 economist article:

    “A big selling-point is a special button that connects the user to Vertu’s dedicated concierge service, which can organise travel, restaurant and hotel bookings, or find a good doctor or florist in a foreign city. When Ms Paltrow mislaid her phone’s charger she called the concierge and a new one arrived within minutes.”

    If I had piles of money, I would not be interested in the phone so much, but I would be interested in that service. Sometimes if you are busy and in a strange place, especially a place where little is in your native language, using google can be a time consuming and frustrating task. Being able to be connected to a human who can help you anywhere you are seems like an excellent service and if they were smart, they would focus a little more on that rather than $200 usb cables.

      1. Really? Because I certainly don’t have piles of money either, but 4 foreign(ish) lands in reach of no more than a three-hour-drive. And in one of them, absolutely nobody speaks my native language – or English.

      2. Business travel. It’s a reality for non-rich folks too. I’m pretty much the opposite of rich and even I find myself on a different continent once or twice a year.

        1. It is sad to think that I made more in the 90’s straight out of high school at a tiny software company than I do now with a management position at my current job. So, yeah I travel a lot for work but do not have piles of money.  Though, our overpaid CEO is getting pretty old. I wonder if I can snag his job when he dies?

    1. Buying a Vertu gets you a year of their concierge service. Their marking isn’t focus on the service but on the status symbol of the phones. You can contract another/better concierge service from somebody else.

      1. Err…   Yes, and she had to look for that shop. And then possibly wait in line for a salesperson.  And they might not have that particular charger.  (I’ve been driving around for a freaking FireWire-cable once – three shops, no hit).

  11. I’m not shocked by the price, but the industrial design is just terrible. I’m surprised somebody that rich would buy something that ugly.

    1. Are you really surprised by that? Have you seen most “luxury” products? Money can’t buy taste, but it’s not even that – whoever markets these things knows which buttons to push (so to speak) to get this type of rich person to buy their goods. It’s gotta be shiny and garish in just the right ways (or the wrong ways, from the point of view of good design).

      This is even true of things many people consider attractive, like Lamborghinis and similar supercars. It’s not a fair comparison, actually, because there is certainly admirable design in those types of supercars, but mostly they’re garish. It doesn’t have to be that way – just look at Aston Martin or Maserati – but to get at that certain part of the rich market that goes for conspicuous consumption, it’s got to look ridiculous.

      It extends to every luxury product. Fashion is another easy example – check out the stuff that Armani, Prada, etc. sell. They have nice, classy stuff – but most of it isn’t. It’s garish and ridiculous, and rich people buy it and wear it!

  12. My computer, my car and my phone have a clock in them.  Carrying and paying for a separate watch seems superfluous to me, but not to lots of other folks.  I do get that people wear them as a fashion thing or jewelry, but seems like a lot of unneccesary money to be carrying around on your wrist.  It’s interesting to know that they exist, but I’d guess I’d put an unneccesarily expensive phone in the same category as a watch that cost more than $30. 

    1. Bingo. Rob periodically links to $500 watches that are functionally equivalent (inferior, really) to a $10 Casio watch. What’s wrong with paying for design (and a certain degree of exclusivity, as with the watches)?

      1. Watch technology is more or less done. So the artistry, design and such can be reasonably approached independently of the gadget’s functionality.

        The problem with a Vertu phone is that it can’t. The artistry and design is attached to a turd. The profound obsolescence of the handsets themselves makes it absurd.

        Another way of looking at it: if a Vertu phone ran the latest version of Android or WP and had decent hardware (or if they just made cases to bling-out other phones), it wouldn’t be worthy of this kind of ridicule.

      2. There’s nothing wring with paying for design, quality or convenience (I’m an Apple fan, myself) – this cable offers none of that, it’s purely an indefensible obscenity.

        And before someone jumps at the Apple thing, this is not at all like, say, an iPad, which is in fact extremely fairly priced when compared with its competition; it’s more like the 20th Anniversary Mac, which was also an indefensible obscenity, even if a million times better designed than the Vertu garbage.

    2. “My computer, my car and my phone have a clock in them.  Carrying and paying for a separate watch seems superfluous to me, but not to lots of other folks.”

      The wristwatch was invented over a century ago because many people wanted the convenience of having the time on their wrist where it could be accessed instantly, rather than having to pull a pocket watch out of their pocket, or look up at the town clock, or look at their company clock or their desk clock or their other clocks. Having  the time conveniently available in multiple locations isn’t something new. Wanting to have it more conveniently located on one’s wrist isn’t new, either. Fashion is not the only reason to wear a wristwatch.

      1. That’s not really my point.   I  understand that people like watches.   I don’t see the reason for the expensive ones, besides fashion.

        1. (Snig: I think you might mean “except for special applications like diving”.)

          The screen blank / login & block time combo on my smartphone drove me back to wristwatches. 
          I think you have to find your own best watch value where cost, quality, functionality, and appearance meet for you. We generally buy Swatches because they are tough and we like the way they look. If you replace one of their fun watches every 5 years out of boredom, you are out about $1/month. (I have never had one die.)

          IMO, fashion is a functional part of a watch, because it lasts longer than a phone and is so visible. It matters how it looks and what impression it gives of you. To me. YMMV.

          1. I also neglected to mention the ones that survive the hard vacuum of space.  I really don’t think there’s anything wrong with anyone’s wrist candy.  I’m just saying, for me,  I don’t see a big distinction between investing in a pricey phone or a fancy watch.  Certainly some watch snobs on the thread will look askance at your Swatches, I’m glad you enjoy it.  I think Carlin said it most succinctly, “My crap is stuff, your stuff is crap”.

          2. @boingboing-a36d22467b9c3af222b5e231e3b23791:disqus “It matters how it looks and what impression it gives of you.”

            Fair enough, but not everyone cares about fashion enough to have it register on their radar screens.  If fashion is your bag, god bless. 

            I don’t wear a watch.  More importantly, I don’t give a tinker’s damn what anybody else thinks of that.

    3. To repeat an argument I’ve put forward many times, a wristwatch is easily read at a very quick glance. To check the time with a phone you have to first take it out of your pocket, possibly take it out of its case, then wake the phone up, a series of actions that must take ten times longer than just a quick look at a watch.
      As for a car and computer, are you completely daft? Unless your car is your office then it’s irrelevant, as is a computer.

      1. While complete daftness can not be ruled out as a diagnosis, I don’t quite know what’s daft about using the clock on your car or computer.  If you wear your watch in the conventional fashion, likely fewer Therbligs are involved in glancing at the computer or the car clock then your watch.   The difference in time from one pronating your wrist subtracted from the time it takes to glance at a computer is pretty tiny.  I take my phone out and push one button and it tells me the time.  If I need to, I can turn the hibernate function off, leave it charging, and it will tell me the time constantly, in quite large characters.  If you’re argument was reasonable, maybe you wouldn’t have to keep putting it forward quite so often. 

        1. i have once or twice pulled out my laptop in the middle of the sidewalk to check the time; it’s not particularly convenient.

  13. Well it seems like we can start renting deck chairs to the plebe, in order to enjoy comfortably the display of this “invisible clothing” parade i can foresee in the coming year.
    I wonder if Monster sells Vertu cables, for $400.

  14. Watches I can understand. An expensive watch made by a quality brand will last you a lifetime. It’s something you could even pass on to your kids in time. The craftmanship makes the price worth it.

    But for this phone it’s like they took the 30 dollar Casio, stuck it in a jewel case and charged you over the moon for it.

    1.  I think overcharging for a cheaply made watch is a tradition as old as selling finely crafted watches.   But many people buying it don’t mind, as there’s a fashion component.  

    2. Yeah, there are two different issues getting mixed up in the comments imo, but both have a degree of validity. On the one hand there are market failures in the economic system that direct resources in an extremely inefficient way (which yes, is a matter of degree, but there  is a meaningful difference between one person spending a million dollars on jewelry and a thousand people spending a thousand dollars on it), and on the other there’s the issue of being a tasteless douchebag without a clue, which is just irritating on an aesthetic level. Like Brideshead Revisited: “This Burgundy seemed  to me, then, serene  and triumphant, a reminder that the world was an older and better place than Rex knew, that mankind in its  long passion had learned another wisdom than his.” There’s a beauty in a great watch that these phones just don’t share.

      1. Well put, thanks. I think that what makes the watches appear more forgivable is that an expensive watch generally is also a good watch, while a Vertu is just a shit phone tarted up.

    1. You seriously have no clue how much health insurance for a family costs when the company doesn’t subsidize it, do you?

  15. dude, have to stop you in your tracks as of now. while natcotraffickers are indeed fans of luxury items, they are above all (most than you and me, believe it) connoisseurs of efficient telecomm! 

  16. Wow. That’s not even a particularly nice USB cable.

    I mean, check these recent Samsung Mobile cables out:
    With the rounded corners and grippy edges and whatnot, they actually add something to the USB cable experience (yeah, yeah, I know, but they do feel sturdy and well (perhaps slightly over) engineered). Also, they look kind of nice.

    Compared to them, the Vertu cable looks cheap, like something found in a bin at a supermarket. I mean, if you’re going to buy a $200 USB cable, wouldn’t you want it to look nice, at least?

    1. Are you sneakily drawing attention to the fact that these are just black versions of the equivalent Apple cables? :)

  17. While this phone is a load of overpriced tat, is this really that different from the Aerodyne computer that boingboing fawns over a few posts below?

    The Aerodyne is an exclusive and highly priced computer that doesn’t even have DVI outputs and uses obsolete PS/2 inputs. A $500 HP laptop will be more functional.

    People will pay for design over functionality, and different people have different ideas about what a good design is.

    Still, these phones look pretty crap, while the Aerodyne is a piece of art, IMO.
    And $200 for a USB cable is just insane. Does it have gold-plated connectors and low-oxygen copper?

    1. The Aerodyne is an exclusive and highly priced computer that doesn’t even have DVI outputs and uses obsolete PS/2 inputs. A $500 HP laptop will be more functional.

      Although the Aerodyne doesn’t include a DVI output, I’d bet that neither do the current $500 HP laptops. Most these days have HDMI and VGA ports (as does the Aerodyne).

      And even though PS/2 connectors are outdated, including the ports on a computer certainly doesn’t make the computer less functional. Just ignore them if you rather use USB.

    2. Aerodyne is a hand-made one-off by a master craftsman, (mostly) using the latest and most up-to-date components for the form-factor! He could maybe pick a better mobo tho, sure.

    3. We’re all vulnerable to that “cultural capital” “narcissism of small differences” “status anxiety” thing to some extent. Boing Boing promotes (in my opinion) overpriced under-functional ugly tat from time to time.

      But a $190 USB cable is definitely an extreme case. And at least hipster snobbery isn’t predicated entirely on the above. What’s more, the extremely rich cause way more problems than hipsters, and it’s getting worse as income disparity increases. One of the saving graces of powerful rich people is what they’ve enabled in the aesthetic sphere through patronage. When they don’t even have good taste they’re even more of a curse.

  18. Three issues here:
    1. They look like crap
    2. Unlike an expensive watch or jewelry, they have no lasting value
    3. They aren’t even as closely functional as an average Android or even iPhone 3G. For something that people interact with constantly lack of function is a killer. A Rolex on the other hand does tell the time, and you’d expect it to do so until the next century.

    1. 2. Unlike an expensive watch or jewelry, they have no lasting value

      I think this is a good point and can be expanded upon. There are for a fact $5000 watches that due to their design and manufacture will simply never go out of style and will last for a number of decades and could even be considered and investment. And then there are $250000 watches which for all intents and purposes only exist to stroke the egos of useless people who spend $2500000 on a watch because they can. There is no one (unless they are advocates of cheap on an ideological level like Richard Stallman), that will argue or deny that some products, services and devices are worth a premium, even if that premium is outside the reach of standard middle class incomes. What can be argued that any system that supports or indeed deems necessary the ability of persons or organizations to accumulate so much wealth that they can compulsively and flagrantly spend sums of money equal to the income of an entire city on a whim is a broken system.

  19. I think it’s funny how many commenters deride the buyers of this product as wasting money and rush to defend their own spending decisions. Money’s only worth what you get for it. If someone thinks it’s worth it to buy a crappy phone made with luxury materials then more power to ’em.

  20. There is exactly one feature from the Vertu I’d like to see in something else: The last time I read about them, years ago, they claimed to use some custom material in the ear-facing part that would stay cool even through long conversations. If it works, that’s sort of neat.

    Of course, it’s a bit hard to combine with the all-screen design on decent new smartphones.  I guess I should get a reasonable handsfree instead.

    1. “The last time I read about them, years ago, they claimed to use some custom material in the ear-facing part that would stay cool even through long conversations. If it works, that’s sort of neat.”

      You’re paying how many thousands of dollars for off-the shelf latex?

      1. Some fancy modern ceramic, I believe. A copper heatsink solution would probably have worked fine, assuming the phone itself doesn’t produce too much heat while talking in it – but that wouldn’t have sounded as fancy. (Though if they did come up with a material that worked better for some reason, that would be interesting.)
        And uhm, latex? What?

  21. One of the things that make consumer electronics inexpensive is economy of scale. Looking at the Vertu Bluetooth earpiece (ouch!?) I imagine they spent a bit of money for the design and the tooling, only to produce a small quantity. A boutique luxury brand has many of the same costs as a mainstream brand (often higher), but doesn’t have the volume to recoup those costs. Per-unit pricing has to go (way) up to cover those huge up-front costs.

    If just one blood-diamond dictator buys an iPhone and a fancy case instead a Vertu, then comes to the monthly junta meeting and no one thinks anything of it, then the cost will go up for all the rest of the genocidians. Either that, or Nokia stops making a profit, despite the crazy MSRP — which I guess is what’s happening.

    1. It depends on materials, and how much of it is off-the-shelf.

      Looking at the crap above, I’d say probably the only component they didn’t have laying around is the casing; and for the most part, plastic molds aren’t terribly expensive (compared to say, carbide pressing and machining molds). So it might hold true for things like cars and furniture, but probably not for crappy phones in expensive clothes.

      R&D is a whole ‘nother issue; but again, it’s just an ugly, sub-par phone.

  22. Still waiting for the first Sybian joke to pop up. It’s possible I’ve admitted more than I should have.

  23. Judging from some of these comments, either the troll money’s out (a strong likelihood, given the fluttering eyelids of the formerly class-unconscious American giving class), or some folks are still living in their little silicon tech bubble of unreality.
    The question isn’t whether those who have wealth should be able to spend it how they wish. It also isn’t about hating those who have incredible wealth because they are successful.
    The issue is whether society can continue to be separate economically and sustain a class which does little or nothing to contribute to society. The percentage of the wealthy who actually produce goods or services (and I hear the trickle-down arguments forming, so let me call bullshit now, and loudly) is very small compared to the number who don’t. For example, all who say ‘Good! Sell the rich overpriced, undervalued items!’ are missing the point. Certainly doing so will free up  money for that merchant and pay the salary of employee’s (and a salary as small as possible; remember, we’re talking about a capitalist system here). However, there is a moral issue also at work that’s being totally avoided.
    Can the wealthy pour champagne and caviar on willing ‘servants’ and lick it off? Sure, they can afford to do that, right? Wealth does not give anyone the privilege to act immorally; to degrade and destroy the society which provided them with the means to acquire their wealth.
    Starbucks? Enormous televisions? Those are the best examples posters can come up with to try to equate the increasingly poor with the obscenely rich?
    Trolls, and I’m glad to see them. It means OWS is a movement worth supporting, especially if it draws attention to the swelling ranks of Caligula-esque assholes living by the sweat of our brows.

    1. And even the strained apologies don’t work. It’s a pretty safe bet that the guys assembling these phones are making the same money as the guys assembling $1o Tracfones.

      The extra profits from most of these luxury sales are being transferred from a rich, stupid person to a rich, business-savvy person.

      1. In Vertu’s case it doesn’t sound like they’re being transferred to a business-savvy person. It sounds like they’re being transferred from the rich-stupid to the soon-to-be-not-very-rich-when-the-business-goes-under person.

        1. “to the soon-to-be-not-very-rich-when-the-business-goes-under person”

          Considering they don’t own the company, I doubt this.

    2. You start off your comment being simply wrong: “The question isn’t whether those who have wealth should be able to spend it how they wish. It also isn’t about hating those who have incredible wealth because they are successful.” These questions are exactly what (at least part of) this is about. You know how I know that with such certainty? Because I read the rest of your comment — where you went on to provide your answers to both of your stated questions.

      Read the article carefully; it has two thrusts — the first more dominant than the second:  

      (1) Vertu makes a crappy phone that it sells for more money than its outdated technology would naturally warrant. (“It lumbers along the dried slugtrail of progress, having just announced its first touchscreen Symbian handset–sure to be an LG Prada-killer!”)

      (2) Rich people who buy this phone are idiots. (“Did you know that Nokia has a “luxury” subsidiary that makes phones for stupid rich people?”)

      Since we’re all reading a science- and tech-based site, we all may be able to agree that thrust (1) is correct; I believe it is Rob’s main point.

      A lot of the discussion is wrapped around thrust (2). So it is certainly among the “questions” you say this isn’t about. 

      Your statement is really quite funny on its face:  “The issue is whether society can continue to … sustain a class which does little or nothing to contribute to society.” I’m curious, are you talking about the 47% of Americans that don’t pay any Federal or State Income Tax? That’s not very nice of you! 

      Or are you comically referring to the top 1% that have paid on average 40% of all federal personal income taxes (over the past few years: )? Or the top 5% who pay around 60% of all taxes. And which of these economic groups that you stratify society into has the highest ratio of “producers” versus “consumers” or, in other words, “value and wage creators” versus “receivers of other people’s money”? And I include crony-capitalism corporate bail-outs in this last category. 

      People buy whatever makes them happy — for whatever reason it does. That action has nothing to do with you or your grand theories about how society should be ordered. It does not negatively affect your life one bit — unless we’re talking about psychologically, due to envy. 

      Your clumsy connection of the purchase of a luxury item (that you admit would do economic good) to a so-called “ignored moral issue” associated with the wealthy thinking they’re granted the “privilege to act immorally” made me actually laugh… out loud. 

      You see, here in the “real world,” if a rich person wanted to pay someone with much less money to have champagne and caviar poured on them so the fat-cat could lick it off — and believe me, somewhere some rich man has done this with some woman — it does not affect “society” or you. It makes the rich person happier and it makes the willing accepter of his money that much richer. That’s capitalism:  everyone leaves the transaction feeling like they are better off. How you get to “degrad[ing] and destroy[ing] the society” is an ideological leap that only the fiercely like-minded would ever make with you.

      Caligula… sheesh. Overwrought nonsense. Grow up.


      1. First off, telling people to “Grow up” when you disagree with them? That’s rude. Are you a rude person?

        Second off, all of your tax figures have been ripped apart for years now, and near-constantly since OWS. Gosh, people with little-to-no income don’t pay federal taxes?! Yes, we all know it. They do, however, pay every other kind of tax. If you want to argue against basic tax deductions, please pony up a few thousand dollars per year. And if you have a problem with people being poor, please provide some jobs.

        As for the percentage of total taxes that certain income groups pay, maybe that has something to do with their portion of GDP?

      2. That’s capitalism:  everyone leaves the transaction feeling like they are better off.

        Yeah, no one ever feels exploited or ripped off in a capitalist society!

        1. First, in reply to “travtastic”:  You’re right — the “grow up” comment was unwarranted.

          Second, to “inness”:  Sorry about the unnecessary “grow up”. 

          Third, in reply to “Itsumishi”:  Life is all about the better choice of options available. There is no “perfect” system for anything. Given that, tell me which political-economic system/society has never left anyone ever feeling exploited at any time. Further, tell me what system has — through history — lifted more people out of poverty than capitalism? The principle that undergirds capitablism’s undeniable and continued improvement in the general state of people’s lives is that almost all transactions are voluntary between the two parties because each benefits. Where this isn’t the case often the cause can be traced to where capitalism/competition has been thwarted.

          So, to my mind, the question is: which political-economic system or society allows for the most *uncorrected* exploitation of people over a long period of time? Remember, Bernie Madoff, Jeffrey Skilling and Bernard Ebbers were caught and will be in jail for the rest of their lives. Mao and Stalin died in their beds at 82 and 75, respectively. 

          1. Remember, Bernie Madoff, Jeffrey Skilling and Bernard Ebbers were caught and will be in jail for the rest of their lives. Mao and Stalin died in their beds at 82 and 75, respectively.

            Plenty of monsters are still running around free in the US and plenty of Soviet and Chinese panjandrums died in prison. You’re cherry picking.

          2. Further, tell me what system has — through history — lifted more people out of poverty than capitalism?

            I’m sure that was capitalism. I’m sure that it had nothing to do with the labor movement, or consumer advocacy, automation, communications, transportation, progressive taxation, regulation, populism…

          3. “I’m sure that was capitalism. I’m sure that it had nothing to do with the labor movement, or consumer advocacy, automation, communications, transportation, progressive taxation, regulation, populism…”

            Right, everything the free-marketeers consider “anti-captialistic”.

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