NOVEMBER 7, 2004
 Cover Story
 Personal Finance
 BT Special
 Back of the Book

The iPod Effect
Now you see it, now you don't. All sub-visible phenomena have this mysterious quality to them. Sub-visible not just because Apple's hot new sensation, the handy little iPod, makes its physical presence felt so discreetly. But also because it's an audio wonder more than anything else. Expect more and more handheld gizmos to turn musical.

What route other than musical would Panasonic take, even for a phone handset, into consumer mindspace?

More Net Specials
Business Today,  October 24, 2004
Vertu, Not Virtue
The phone that leaves you poorer by a million bucks.
Connoisseur's choice: The Vertu collection offers the ultimate luxury in mobile communications to celebrities

A wise old man once said, "a phone is a phone is a phone." That wise old man never saw the Vertu collection of phones.

Note that I used the term 'collection' rather than 'range'. Because that is calling a spade a spade, or rather calling an item of personal adornment exactly what it is. This is not a phone. No one in their senses would spend Rs 17.2 lakh on a mere phone. This is much more than a phone.

In fact, when it comes to the 'phone' aspect of it all, the Vertu falls flat. There is no colour screen, no camera and no high-tech acronym accompanying it. Sure, it has amazing voice clarity, but this is not a device a techno-geek would spend hours drooling over.

So, what is it? Looking and holding the rather heavy platinum bodied Vertu Signature phone, you immediately feel that this is something exclusive. And that feeling is endorsed when you run through the user list-Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, David Beckham, Frank Lampard and other assorted celebrities.

The logic behind Vertu is similar to the logic behind luxury watches. Any watch can tell the time, but you would still love to wear an Omega or a Rolex, just for the feel and the craftsmanship. Here, that would be the solid metal feel, the reassuring 'click' you get when you press any of the ruby mounted buttons and the sapphire crystal screen. This is a phone that is the epitome of craftsmanship. This is a wildly different approach from the insane techno-wizardry that characterises the mobile handset business.

In addition to all that, there is the 'concierge' service, which is unique to Vertu buyers (complimentary for the first year). The service can get you reservations at a good restaurant or tickets for a sold-out play almost anywhere in the world. Of course, some celebrities have used it to organise everything: from limousines for women 'friends' to arranging tea parties in a strange city.

The Vertu Ascent range starts at Rs 2,42,000 and the Signature range at Rs 3,71,000. That is the price of a small car. Of course, if you buy the top-end platinum-bodied Signature for Rs 17,20,000, you could practically buy a fleet of small cars or a Mercedes c-Class. Overkill!

Will Vertu do well in India? This correspondent certainly sees a huge market for the phone from cricketers, movie stars and politicians, but as for their connoisseurship (that's what Vertu means in English) abilities, he will refrain from commenting on that.

A Touch Of Vanity

A few years ago, when I first began going to a gym, I was more than a bit self-conscious about my appearance. No surprise that. I was paunchy, overweight and sluggish. And the gym I chose-because it was very close to my house-was full of people who looked very, very different. You know the type: rippling muscles, tight tank tops, spandex shorts... That's where I met Firdaus, my first gym instructor. Firdaus was a wiry guy, with an incredibly defined body and an abysmally low body fat level. He was all muscle. One morning, he saw me doing bicep curls with a pair of dumb-bells. I was huffing and puffing and, between sets, looking balefully at my arms, which were nowhere near like anybody else's in that gym in suburban Mumbai. That's when Firdaus came up to me and said, simply: "Don't waste so much time on your arms; those are just vanity muscles. You should concentrate on the building blocks of your body-the big muscles. Everything else will follow."

What Firdaus meant by building blocks are really the big muscle groups in our body: the back, thighs and hamstring, back and shoulders. These are the 'foundations' of the body and toning and strengthening them, as any fitness enthusiast knows, is what makes your body shapely and your posture great.

But I don't want to preach about something that most readers of this column already know. Instead, this fortnight I'd like to tell you how it pays to be a bit vain. At least in the gym. Vanity is a great motivator. I'll tell you why. But first, here's something I saw on my first few visits to a gym some years back and I'm sure most of you who frequent gyms are familiar with what I'm talking about. It's called preening. And regular gymmers-whether they're 20-something or, like me, 40-and-more-do it regularly. Preening is a between-the-sets look-see in the mirror while you slyly flex your triceps or catch a sideways glance to see how pumped your pectorals are. Yes, I know it's a bit narcissistic but what the hell are you doing in a gym if you don't want to look good?

The point I'm trying to make is a simple one. A bit of vanity about your body, your different muscle groups and how they're shaping up, is a great motivator in the gym. It's the little bursts of exhilaration when you see for yourself the progress you're making-it's the fuel that spurs you on. And makes gymming an enjoyable experience.

A word of caution here, though. Vanity in large doses can create problems. Like overtraining or obsession with gymming, this can be counter-productive. So, go ahead and be vain about your body. But only a little.

write to


If your work involves sitting for long hours in front of a pc, chances are you have some health-related issues. Here's how you can cope:

YOUR BACK: It's bony and depends on strong muscles for support. "If you're in a static posture for an hour or two, it cuts down on circulation, leading to sciatic pain and numbness," explains Dr. H.S. Chhabra of the Indian Spinal Injury Centre. Precautions: Change your posture every 40-50 minutes. And at regular intervals, stand up, walk around and stretch.

YOUR WRIST: The wrist has eight small bones with ligaments and a median nerve that passes through it. If this nerve gets compressed, which happens if you work at the keyboard relentlessly, it results in pain and numbness in the hand, a condition called the carpal tunnel syndrome. Precautions: Maintain wrists in a flat position over the keyboard (soft, padded wrist-rests can help), and keep lower arms parallel to the floor.

YOUR EYES: Constantly staring into a pc can hurt your eyes. "We do concentrated work on the computer and, therefore, blink less, which ends up drying and dehydrating the eyes," says Dr. L.R. Seth, Ophthalmologist at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital. This results in headaches, irritated and/or dry eyes, blurred vision, occasional doubling of vision, and changes in colour perception. Precautions: Take frequent breaks, avoid contact lenses at work, keep the pc screen below eye level, and get an anti-glare screen.




Partners: BT-Mercer-TNS—The Best Companies To Work For In India