Sunday, January 24, 2010

Luxury Phones that Use Gears Instead of Chips

celsius luxury phoneCelsius X VI III hopes to establish their place in the luxury phone market with their new phones that incorporate Swiss watch craftsmanship into the phone instead of a chip.

On Thursday, January 21st, Celsius said that they had received funding from one of Europe’s biggest venture capital firms to start things up. Celsius was established a few years ago with the goal to take the 500 year old technology found in hand-made watches and utilize it to make a cell phone that would use moving parts instead of chips and electronics. Celsius has been able to sell their idea to Sofinnova Partners who invested 2.2 million euros, AGF Private Equity who invested 500,000 euros, and several other private investors who together gave 600,000 euros.

The co-chief executive of Celsius, Edouard Meylan, said, “Our target is the man who owns a few sports cars and is an aficionado of Swiss watches.” He wants their customers to be able to keep these luxury phones for decades instead of having to replace their phone every few years.

Meylan has been around fine craftsmanship his entire life. His father is George-Henry Meylan who is the longtime CEO of Audemars Piguet a famous Swiss watch making company.

The first phone that Celsius has designed is called the Papillon. The phone contains a mechanism that winds the watch found inside every time the device is opened or closed. The Papillon is also clam-shaped and costs around 200,000 euros. It will only be found in about a dozen watch or jewelry stores around the globe once it is released.

The luxury phone industry was started up by Nokia in 2002 when they launched their Vertu line of mobile phones that cost anywhere from 5,000 to 25,000 euros. Fashion icons like Georgio Armani, Prada, and Christian Dior have followed Nokia in this luxury phone industry by releasing their own phones.

Mainly, the most difficult aspect for Celsius will be building a credibility in the very minute luxury phone industry. They will be up against not only other luxury phone companies but also other Swiss watch makers, like Tag Heuer and Ulysses Nardin, who are developing a line of phones as well.

Interestingly enough, Meylan plans to only sell around 50 Papillon phones and 150 of a lower priced version of the Papillon in the first year. Honestly, I don’t know how they could expect to sell anymore with the ridiculously high price tag that it has. It will be interesting to see if this really does as well as Celsius expects. I personally could never imagine putting out enough money to buy a car for a cell phone, but we will just have to sit and watch what people really think of this new line of luxury phones.

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