Technology surpassed its fulfillment of functional needs; it has been transformed into a fashion staple that can be a defining indicator of an individual's status.
Forget fancy jewelery or watches to show off your affluence. Cell phones crusted in diamonds, sapphires and rubies were among the main features at Baselworld, the largest watch and jewelery trade fair.
Cell phones give others an insight into your life. They hint at what you do for a living, your income, how much you value fashion and your technological savvy.
Mobiles are constantly in the public eye. We lay them on the table at restaurants, receive phone calls at all hours, send texts, use them to check our schedules and even to look up the weather. Wherever we go, they are constantly on display.
They may even spur the extinction of the traditional watch. Increasingly, people leave their wrists bare, relying instead on phone clocks. A lot of people are more willing to invest in luxury cell phones than wrist watches today.
You can't get away with a diamond-crusted watch at the beach, and wearing one at work could raise many an eyebrow. A cell phone, on the other hand, is a necessity that's carried everywhere, from work, to dinner, to a cardio session at the gym.
Vertu, owned by Nokia, targets moneyed people on the go; think jet-setters whose Saturdays might consist of â€œbreakfast in London, shopping in Paris and a late dinner in New York.â€ Phone functions include restaurant bookings, flight trackers, currency converters and gift order placement, the opulent packaging (think diamond-perforated leather) makes practicality a secondary feature.
Vertu isn't alone either. Motorola launched its Dolce & Gabbana designed RAZR phone and LG Electronics teamed up with Prada. Luxury cell phones sold at the Basel tradeshow ranged in price from $4,350 to $310,000.
The market for these lavish goods is growing too. Vertu's sales rose 140 per cent last year and are expected to rise another 100 per cent in 2007. The demand is definitely there.
If they find a way to waterproof mobile devices, wrist watches may become a relic of the past.