By Jon Matonis
Thursday, February 21,2013
Probably not. But it can buy privacy and state-of-the-art encrypted communications. Luxury UK phone maker Vertu has partnered with secure communication provider Silent Circle
for end-to-end voice and text encryption worthy of its designer
product. The Rolls-Royce of phones meets the gold standard of mobile
Priced at $10,500 (7,900€) and sold through boutiques
in 60 countries, this is the phone you never want to leave in a taxi cab
accidentally. For those of us annoyed with friends and colleagues
repeatedly showing off their new iPhone 5 or BlackBerry 10, Vertu
offers the hand-crafted Ti model with 3.7-inch sapphire crystal screen
and titanium case. More comparable to classy wristwatches and fine
designer handbags, there's also Signature and Constellation models at
even higher prices.
Now, each Android-based Vertu Ti will come
already provisioned with Silent Circle out of the box. As the preferred
private communications service partner to Vertu, each new Vertu Ti phone
comes with a complimentary 12-month subscription to Silent Circle. Also
in a clever viral move to spread adoption, each new subscriber will get
five 30-day companion licenses which will operate on any platform and
allow the customer to build their own circle of secure communications.
The famous and tailored Vertu Concierge
service that sits at the heart of every Vertu phone experience was also
specifically customized to support Silent Circle for a seamless blend
of performance and customer service. These proprietary concierge apps
offer round-the-clock live support and dedicated specialists available
through text, voice and email.
More attentive to your needs than
Siri and quickly accessed via the custom ruby key on the phone, Vertu
Concierge caters to the demanding needs of the Vertu customer with a
team of "lifestyle managers" covering all major time zones such as
London, Paris, Milan, New York, Shanghai, Dubai, Moscow Hong Kong, and San Francisco.
Already in the circle
are high-profile government departments, intelligence agencies, exiled
leaders, and former heads of state. Thanks to the Vertu partnership,
Silent Circle can now add Russian oligarchs, Persian Gulf oil sheiks,
and Hollywood celebrities to that list.
Founded in 1998, Vertu has approximately 1,000 employees and 470 international points of sale. Last year, the company's sales approached 300 million euros, up from 266 million euros in 2011, and they have sold 300,000 devices over the last 10 years.
Silent Circle CEO Mike Janke, who will be speaking at next week's RSA Conference in San Francisco,
explains how this unique partnership happened: "Over the past three
years, Vertu's #1 request from high-net-worth customers has been secure
communications. And after they spent 18 months visiting various
companies and testing secure chat, phone and text products, they chose
Analyzing the specific terms of the deal -- a bulk
purchase of 35,000 one-year subscriptions without exclusivity
conditions -- reveals why it is so critical for startups like Silent
Circle to shy away from exclusive and usually lucrative partnership
offers. Non-exclusivity may leave some money on the table in the short
term, but the 32-person Silent Circle team doesn't seem to mind.
this early point in the secure communications game, a single exclusive
deal would nearly equate to an acquisition. And with most of the
industry's leading players knocking on their door, Janke says "it is
very tempting to sign an exclusive arrangement with a top phone
manufacturer or a leading mobile network." However, Silent Circle
remains solidly focused on the larger global market and that means
non-exclusive coverage on every platform, everywhere.
Meanwhile, back at the bat cave, Silent Circle's latest Silent Text offering for Apple's iOS finally received approval yesterday after an arduous 21-day App Store process.
[Note: Silent Circle makes their source code available for review on github.]