A $57,000 solid gold, designer phone is launched in Hong Kong by a Danish company hoping to bring quality back into the mobile phone industry.
HONG KONG, CHINA (OCTOBER 19, 2011) REUTERS - It doesn't do email, the internet, have a camera, games or GPS navigation, but a new mobile phone from Denmark is literally solid gold.Danish company Aesir said it hopes to sell its $57,400, limited-edition 18-carat gold phones to Hong Kong's fashion-forward elite.
The phone, which took three years to develop, is "not a play thing", company founder Thomas Jensen said, sipping champagne in a luxury penthouse apartment overlooking the Hong Kong skyline at it's launch dinner.
"So basically what we have wanted to do is to introduce, or re-introduce quality into the mobile phone industry. To design a product that will last instead of being a throw-away product in plastic that will last 18 months, introduce some interesting design, maybe thought provoking design and a quality that will last 10-15 years. And the way we do that is by engaging with some of the world's most interesting and visionary designers like Yves Behar which is the first collaborator," Jensen told Reuters.
The firm says it will design a new phone every 18 months, producing around 2,000 models in stainless steel and 25 in gold which uses over 165 grammes of pure gold in each phone.
Taking two days each to make by hand, Jensen says they are struggling to keep up with demand, but insists Aesir, founded in 2007, is not positioning itself to be a luxury company.
"No, that's for us is the main challenge is to explain that what we do is not about luxury as such, it's about based on Danish design principles, Danish design heritage. What do you do with a product? You refine it, you make it of high quality so you don't have to change it every year, you buy something for life basically. And I think it's basically after the financial crisis and you have a world with scarce, limited resources. Everybody has to consider why they buy something, whether they buy things to throw away or whether they will buy quality that will last," he said.
Several of Denmark's richest families, including the owners of toymaker Lego, have invested in the developing the blocky, streamlined phones, designed by Yves Behar.
"So the core idea behind the design of the phone is that it has to do a few things really, really well. If you put a lot of fancy technologies into a product it tends to become outdated very fast. So the essential things people do with a phone, the communication that will always be important is voice, great sound, great transmission and great tactility, a great feel. So in order to do that you really have to think about the shapes, essential shapes, shapes that will last, that will be classic," said Behar at the launch.
Aesir, which is rolling out models in Cyrillic and Chinese, has already generated buzz with its glitzy promotion in Moscow, London, and New York with its final launch in Hong Kong his week.