We found it a bit amusing last year when a Japanese company decided to open up a "luxury mobile phone service" for the super wealthy. Unlike some others, the goal of Voce wasn't to let people have super expensive, gold- or diamond-encrusted handsets. Instead, it was all about the service. For a $1500 signup fee and $500 per month, you'd get an ordinary Motorola RAZR with unlimited calling and data. They would give you new handsets every so often, but they'd also act as a 24-hour concierge service. Any personal help you needed was yours for the calling. Of course, there are plenty of concierge services out there, and it's not clear why it should ever be associated with a mobile operator. Apparently, the company has discovered that there really isn't a huge market for such things. Having already downgraded the upfront fee to $1,000 and the monthly hit to $400, they're now dropping the prices once again -- this time cutting them in half. It's now $500 to enter, and $200/month. They still insist there's a big market for such things, and plan to try to do a nationwide launch (rather than in just a few select cities) sometime next year -- but the fact that they've had to repeatedly drop their prices so much suggests that people don't really care very much about a mobile operator for the rich and famous. The people who could afford such a thing probably already have all of the concierge service they need -- and without anything in the way of a special phone to offer, it's hard to see the value. On top of that, when you're introducing a luxury brand, rapidly dropping your prices tends to suggest there isn't any real luxury there.
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