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B&O Cellphones: Nevermind

12/12/2003 09:34:00 AM Eastern

Arlington Heights, Ill. - Bang & Olufsen will not enter the U.S. cellphone market after all, or at least not yet.

The company this week announced that it would roll out a selection of luxury cellphones manufactured by U.K.-based Vertu, the luxury cellphone maker, at prices from $5,200 to $21,000. A day later, the company said it was withdrawing the announcement. It didn’t explain why.

B&O had said it would carry a full range of Vertu models, including models handcrafted in stainless steel, 18-karat yellow gold, 18-karat white gold, and platinum with upgradeable technology, a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal face, jewelled bearings under each key, and one-button access to Vertu’s 24-hour concierge service, which assists in making restaurant reservations, travel arrangements, booking theater tickets, and the like.

In December, two specialty Bang & Olufsen stores in Toronto and Edina, Minn., were to begin selling the products. A roll out was planned throughout the U.S. and Canada for 2004.

B&O stores in the U.S. already sell home phone systems.

Despite one supplier’s prediction of a shakeout of cellphone suppliers in the U.S., another company thinks there’s room for at least one more brand -- if you target the right niche.

Luxury consumer electronics brand Bang & Olufsen is rolling out a selection of luxury cellphones manufactured by U.K.-based Vertu, the luxury cellphone maker. B&O will carry a full range of Vertu models, including models handcrafted in stainless steel, 18-karat yellow gold, 18-karat white gold, and platinum with upgradeable technology, a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal face, jeweled bearings under each key, and one-button access to Vertu’s 24-hour concierge service, which assists in making restaurant reservations, travel arrangements, booking theater tickets, and the like.

U.S. prices range from $5,200 to $21,000.

At least one cellphone supplier expects a shakeout among handset suppliers. 'Carriers want to do more with fewer suppliers and always keep a few guys on the periphery,' said Randy Smith, Samsung’s product marketing VP. 'That accelerated in the past few years,' in part because the growing complexity of handsets, requiring rigorous network-compatibility tests by carriers’ certification labs, he told TWICE. 'With fewer suppliers, the labs are more efficient, and the products get out [to market] faster.'

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