Nokia is reported to be ready to close its Vertu luxury mobile phone outlets in Japan

Nokia’s gradual withdrawal from the Japanese market looks set to continue, with rumours that the vendor is set to withdraw its Vertu range of “luxury” handsets and services due, apparently, to the brand’s inability to compete with smartphones.

According to reports in Japanese newspaper Nikkei, the Finnish vendor will withdraw completely from that market at the end of August this year, having failed to make any meaningful impact on the country’s mobile communications ecosystem. Nokia’s Vertu partnership contract with local big gun NTT DoCoMo was due to end at around this time also.

British-based Vertu is an independently run division of Nokia, manufacturing the mobile phone market’s answer to high-end, status symbol watches and jewellery. Many of its phones are made using precious metals and gems– it’s most expensive device to date, the Signature Cobra, retailed for over £200,000. A Signature stainless steel model retails for £8,600. The phones run on Nokia’s Symbian operating system.

Nokia’s relationship with the Japanese market has been a troubled one. The vendor pulled out of the mass market there in 2008 having battled to compete with locally developed products and competing offerings designed specifically with the Japanese user in mind. According to commentators at the time, Nokia’s offerings didn’t support many of the technologies popular with Japanese consumers, leaving the company unable to compete with locally based manufacturers. While Nokia’s star waned, the iPhone and Android based phones saw exponential growth, with the latter in particular cementing a toehold for device makers such as Samsung and LG.

Following the 2008 withdrawal, Nokia had continued to operate two Vertu outlets in the upmarket areas of Shibuya and Ginza. Nokia Siemens networks will continue to operate in Japan.

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