Sirin Labs, a European-Israeli start up, announced it will shun the trend towards low-cost smartphones when it launches a new Android device in May with a price tag in excess of £10,000 (€12,858/$14,475).
The company said it is taking a fresh approach to retailing smartphones for the super-rich by focusing more on technology than the materials on which its rivals in the super high-end smartphone market have traditionally relied, such as covering devices in diamonds.
Moshe Hogeg, president and co-founder of Sirin Labs, told Reuters that the company's Solarin smartphone will offer cutting-edge technologies some two to three years before they are widely available and offer near "military-grade security".
The news agency noted that Vertu -- Nokia's former luxury brand -- retails smartphones for between $10,000 (€8,883) and $300,000, and that the Apple iPhone Black Diamond -- which featured a solid gold chassis and a 26 carat black diamond -- cost $15.3 million.
However, the Telegraph cast doubt on the company's ability to make its way in a market where high-end smartphone sales account for less than 1 per cent of the total. It noted that Vertu was recently acquired by Godin Holdings, a Chinese investment company, and that the vendor's CEO and COO left during that process.
Sirin Labs has 85 employees based in Switzerland, Sweden, the UK and Israel. In a statement the company said it is pressing ahead with the launch of the Solarin after securing $72 million in investment from Singulariteam, an Israel-based venture capital fund co-founded by Hogeg with backing from Kazakh entrepreneur Kenges Rakishev, Chinese social media company Renren, and Tal Cohen, a former McKinsey consultant.
The company may face a tough battle to ensure its security selling point lives up to expectations.
Nokia's Threat Intelligence Lab this month reported that Android continues to be the main mobile platform targeted by mobile malware, and noted that the sophistication of that malware is increasing.
Kevin McNamee, head of the Nokia threat intelligence lab, said security "is a very real concern for any device with an IP address, be it Android, iPhone or even a Windows PC connected to the mobile network."
- view Sirin Labs' announcement (PDF)
- see this Reuters report
- read this Telegraph article
- see this description of the iPhone Black Diamond
- view Nokia's Threat Intelligence Lab announcement
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