Luxury users are something else for marketers. While the rest of the world gropes for more features, better discounts or some nice looks, luxury consumers want to make that extra impact. The mobile phone industry is now rising up to that challenge.
And what better way than linking luxury car brands to mobile phones?
Fly, the handset brand of UK-based Meridian Telecom has launched what it is calling as the Hummer HT1 phone priced at Rs 11,999. The handset sports regular features like a 262, 144 colour screen, a 2.0-megapixel camera, expandable memory and an MP3 player amongst others – but it is the branding that makes it stand out.
Meridian Telecom has tied up with the General Motors' SUV brand Hummer for licences and has got an exclusive three-year contract to launch Hummer phones in India.
"The handset has been designed by a French company called ModeLabs and manufactured in Korea. It has a navigation designed like the steering wheel of H1 and the selection keys designed like the vehicle's grill,” said Rajiv Khanna, CEO, Meridian Telecom.
The three-year contract means that we will see more versions of the Hummer phone coming in the upcoming months. "The handsets will be based around the H2 and H3 versions of the vehicle and will be more rugged," Sougat Chatterjee, Head Marketing, Meridian Telecom, told Hindustan Times.
Meridian Telecom will also be launching a high-end music phone with an integrated Yamaha chip. With these and other handsets, the company is targeting to increase its revenue from Rs 150 crore (at present) to Rs 500 crore by the end of next fiscal year.
Hummer is not the only car brand to have been associated with cellphones.
Vertu has launched its Ascent Ti, which is designed taking in cues from high performance sports cars. The phone derives the 'Ti' in its name from Titanium, the metal used to design the chassis of the handset. Titanium is used in engines of sports cars. Usually found in sports car engines, high performance titanium forms the chassis of the Ascent Ti handset. Ascent is a well-known brand from Hyundai.
Vertu Principal Designer Frank Nuovo said in a statement:"From the start the Vertu Ascent has been heavily influenced by the power, energy, and sheer precision of a beautiful car. With the Vertu Ascent Ti, this vision has been developed further using the high grade materials, design detail, technical superiority and unsurpassed performance associated with the luxury sports car industry." The handset is priced at a whopping Rs 3.26 lakh.
Earlier this year, Porsche launched its P'9521 Porsche phone in Europe in a distribution tie-up with Sagem Communications, a French company that also has a market presence in India.
The MP3 phone comes with a fingerprint scanner and a 3.2 megapixel camera. The handset is retailing in Europe at around 100 euros. Manufactured in France, the handset is expected to be available in India this year. "We are in final stages of talks with the company and might launch the Porsche phone in India by December end this year at an approximate price of Rs 70,000," a company official from Pratham Telecom, the company that distributes Sagem phones in India, told Hindustan Times.
So, it seems you can soon be driving a luxury phone – not just using one.