$15000 smartphone

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A relatively new brand, Sirin Labs, would try to convince you that buying a $15000 smartphone (that is over N3 million in Nigerian currency) is not a waste of money. Lets pause a bit and listen to Sirin Labs pitch how it is wise to spend that kind of money on a handset that is over ten times the cost of one iPhone. We, the skeptical folks, might be convinced after all.

Sirin Labs

Sirin Labs, founded just three years ago, is a Switzerland-based start-up with about $72 million in the bank to fund their operations. A consortium made of Kenges Rakishev, the millionaire businessman from from Kazakhstan; Renren, the social media company based in China; and Venture Capitalist fund Singulariteam owned by one the co-founders of Sirin Labs, are the trio of investors who are the first to put their money to support this $15000 smartphone venture.

Sirin Labs believe the $15000 smartphone is not just about catering to the expensive tastes of the super rich. So what is it about the phone that would make it worth that price? After all, the smartphone would be powered by the Android operating system that some Chinese OEMs get for free to make good phones for less than $100.

Security. That is the punch line. That should make a lot of sense. Because Sirin Labs’ target customer base value their security above everything else. We are talking about the top 1% of the world’s population. The very rich. They invest a lot of money to acquire the best hi-tech gadgets to secure their properties. A $15000 smartphone, if it comes with the best security feature, would not be too much to spend for these group of people. In that respect, the Sirin Labs guys are partnering with a lot cyber security experts from Israel, including the renowned security firm Cellebrite. Cellebrite gained notoriety in the iPhone unlocking row between the FBI and Apple. Apparently, it was security experts from the company that helped FBI to finally unlock the phone. So, it is logical to conclude that a partnership between any mobile phone manufacturer and Cellebrite is likely to result in the most secured phone ever. Is that enough to warrant such a price tag?

Sirin LabsWhat about the fact the phone’s hardware would include the best cameras one can possibly think of; the latest and best in battery technology; and the best speakers amongst others. OK, just think of any component that makes up an Android smartphone. Sirin Labs is promising its niche buyers the best of these. Nothing would be too good or too extravagant. Again, is that enough to opt for a $15000 smartphone?

The Sirin Labs team do actually believe there is a market for that phone. The downturn in global economy which is also affecting the sale of high-end smartphones has not curbed their enthusiasm in any way. Even the fact that the market is currently dominated by mid-range phones from China with fantastic specs, sold at very competitive prices does not deter them. They have done their research. The market is ripe for a phone like this as far as they are concerned. I understand the logic of their sales strategy though. Their are millions of millionaires out there who wouldn’t mind paying for the smartphone. To them a $15000 smartphone is a small price to pay for something so secure and exclusive.

Exclusivity should be what justifies that price tag in the final analysis. It reminds me of the good old days of the rarefied club of Blackberry owners. Most Blackberry owners back then belonged to a select group of tech savvy rich corporate men. Blackberry was the phone to use if you wanted security and exclusiveness. I think the Blackberry experience proved that for certain people, buying a $15000 smartphone is mostly about two things: using a very secured gadget and being part of a very exclusive select group. These are things the very rich value. How else would the rest of the world know they are special and a class apart?


photo credits: haberiniz.com.tr; sirinlabs.com

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