There are some people of means who are desperate for everyone to know they are people of means.
They (men and women) wear gold chains to adorn their leathery necks. They (men and women) wear earrings that sparkle like the eyes of an orgiastic llama. And they (men and women) have the undoubtedly enterprising Austrian jewelry designer Peter Aloisson to make gadgets that might remind lesser beings of trinkets from the artist formerly known as Saddam Hussein.
The latest of Mr. Aloisson's creations is a $2.5 million iPhone. May I quote some of the forbiddingly florid language from Mr. Aloisson's alluring Web site: "Made of solid 18-carat yellow gold, white gold, and rose gold. A fabulous combination. The white gold line is encrusted with a total of 138 brilliant cut diamonds of the best quality."
But wait, this touching work of art has a unique feature. No, it does not polish your shoes while you talk on the phone. And no, it doesn't have a built-in vibrator to massage your ear. It does, however, have a "home button" that carries a rare 6.6-carat diamond.
The Web site gushes that this button is "integrated in the design, as if this diamond has been made for 'taking you home.'" In order to make you understand that this phone is probably not for you, Mr. Aloisson has dubbed the device the "Apple iPhone 3G Kings Button."
I accept that many things are not for me. A Bentley, for example. When I see one floating down the street, I think to myself: "Hmm, well, the driver's dyed his hair out of a bottle, but that's a tastefully designed vehicle."
However, when I look at the iPhone 3G Kings Button, I think: "Wears shoes from a crocodile, smiles like a reptile, and makes love like a cockroach. Oh, and dons Aramis cologne."
Who knows why I think this? Taste is a highly subjective thing. And you might think that Mr. Aloisson was having an off-day when he designed this homage to catatonia.
However, I discreetly perused some of his other cell phone creations, and I have concluded that the iPhone 3G Kings Button is truly one of his finest works. The Nokia E51 Blossoms of the Eight (price upon request) somehow reminds me of Jaws from the Bond movies. The Nokia E51 Terrazzo (price upon request) suggests nothing more than the drapes at my aunt's house. And the Sony Ericsson T68 (price upon request) speaks to me of a serious and contagious tropical disease.
As for what Mr. Aloisson did with the Motorola V3688-90 (price upon request), all I can say is that if I were bling, I would be extremely concerned about defamation of character.
In many ways, I am delighted that Mr. Aloisson has created a thriving business in concocting these portable tombs of excess. It gives us all hope in troubled times. I have no idea how many he has sold in the United States. Surely, there is a hedge fund manager or senior bank figure who may have purchased one in order to look more dapper in a South Dakota night club.
In fact, perhaps Mr. Aloisson's enterprise has given you a business idea. Perhaps you will now dig deep to create, say, a crystal- and gold-encrusted MacBook Air. If so, please step away from your desk and breathe deeply. Because it's already been done.
I think the new, new thing is to make stuff feel cheaper than it really is, not more expensive. Papier-mache BlackBerry, anyone?