When you think of Land Rover, you probably imagine a rough and tumble Defender, or a mighty urban SUV like the Range Rover. What you don’t think of is a smartphone. That may change next year, because the iconic automotive company has decided it needs a range of mobile devices and accessories, to further tempt fans of the brand into parting with their cash.
A deal has been struck between Land Rover and Bullitt Group, a U.K.-based consumer electronics manufacturer that’s no stranger to producing smartphones under license. It’s responsible for phones that wear the Cat, Kodak, and JCB names, plus audio hardware from fashion designer Ted Baker.
This won’t be the first time Land Rover has had a go at smartphones either. In the past, it has teamed up with Sonim, a company best known for making incredibly rugged smartphones that are used in industry, by the military, and in other demanding professions. What they lack in looks, they make up for in damage resistance.
Cash-in, or something more?
What’s the plan for Bullitt and Land Rover? Neither are sharing much detail at the moment, and the first products won’t go on sale until the beginning of 2017, so there’s plenty of time to go before we see the real things. However, it’s said the resulting devices will be aimed at people who, “take on new challenges and go above and beyond the ordinary.” Based on that quote, Land Rover’s cars, and Bullitt’s background with Cat and JCB, we’re expecting another set of tough, durable phones.
While it’s difficult to get that excited about phones like these, which don’t usually have much appeal, there could be more to Land Rover’s plans than a simple cash-in. Last year it demonstrated an app-controlled Range Rover Sport, where the vehicle could be operated at low speeds from outside, using a special app installed on a phone. Last month, Land Rover announced a technology offshoot called InMotion, that will specialize in apps and on-demand services. It’s specifically mentioned the Bullitt-made phone will come with “bespoke apps and technologies.” Remote control cars may be a stretch, but it shows the company is taking mobile technology seriously.
Bullitt doesn’t put its name on the hardware it produces, so the new phone will only wear the Land Rover badge. This is a less common route for car manufacturers to get into smartphones, with the majority choosing a high profile partnership instead. Bentley and luxury technology brand Vertu have a five year agreement to make co-branded devices that complement the cars, for example.
We’ll keep you updated with all the Land Rover smartphone news right here.