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Are You a Smartphone Collector?

If not, maybe you might want to consider picking up a new hobby.

Apple 1

Photo Credit: Auction Team Breker

In a few days, one of the first Apple computers ever built is going to be sold at auction at Christie’s. It is expected to fetch a modest sum of US$500,000. I say modest, because last month, another Apple 1 was sold for a record US$671,400 by a German auction house. Several Apple 1’s have been sold at auction in the past three years. An Apple 1 fetched US$640,000 at auction in November of 2012. In 2011, Sotheby’s sold one for US$374,500. In 2010, an Apple 1 was sold for US$174,000. The Apple 1 was built from 1976 to 1977. Only an estimated 200 Apple 1’s were built, so it is a pretty rare product.

It has happened to first edition books, comic books and toys. Now consumer electronics is joining the list of high priced collectibles. That old mobile phone collecting dust in your desk drawer, because no one offered a decent price for it on eBay, might be worth something someday.

The first generation Apple iPhone, first released 2007, is a good bet to be a desired collector’s item in the future. Only 6.1 million were built, which makes it a rare product. This is after all the phone that started it all, and saw the smartphone go from a businessman’s tool, to a must have for everyone.

The Nokia N900 is another phone that would probably find a place in a museum. Released in 2009, primarily for developers, the Nokia N900 was launched with a new Linux-based Maemo 5. Maemo 5 was supposed to be the basis of Nokia’s next generation touch-friendly operating system. This phone was targeted at a niche market. I would not think that all that many were sold. All the time and effort that went into the Maemo-MeeGo OS development went to waste when Nokia moved to Windows Phone. However, Nokia did launch one MeeGo device in 2011, the Nokia N9. They would make a nice pair behind a glass case.

Another good bet is the HTC-built Google Nexus One launched in 2010. While it is not the first Android ever built, I suspect it may become the most iconic Android phone. I do not know how many of these phones were sold, but being sold off-contract, I do not expect that all that many were built. There are two versions of the HTC Nexus One, one with an AMOLED display and the other with an LCD display. The AMOLED version would be the more desirable among the two.

Nokia N900

Photo Credit: Nokia

This might all sound a bit crazy. But some people are already betting that the first generation Apple iPhone will be a collector’s item. There are a few BNIB (“Brand New In Box) samples being offered, starting at US$2,000.

Interestingly, you can still buy a Nokia N900, Nexus One or Nokia N9, BNIB, from online sellers, with prices starting as low as US$129. Might be a good time to pick one up.

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