By Seth Fitzgerald / Mobile Tech Today. Updated January 15, 2014.
A partnership between Silent Circle and GeeksPhone has popped up and is promising to yield a privacy-centered smartphone called Blackphone. Other than a short introduction video and product Web site, not everything is known about the device or how it will protect users, but the two companies say that they will be showing off the phone at Mobile World Congress next month.
Had Blackphone been announced two years ago, few consumers might have found it interesting or useful, with other smartphones available from more established manufacturers such as Samsung and Apple. However, as a result of the revelations regarding the National Security Agency, there are more people interested in protecting their data than have ever been before.
Focus on Security
At its core, Blackphone will still be running Android, which means that it should include many of the features that you would find on a typical Android smartphone. The difference, however, is that its creators are building the device with privacy and security at the forefront of their thinking.
GeeksPhone has already made a name for itself in the handset industry as it has come out with Android phones, and more recently, it has been working on the hardware for a Firefox OS device. Based upon GeeksPhone's track record, the security-side of the phone seems to be coming from Silent Circle, which previously worked on an encrypted e-mail service.
"Performance benchmarks put it among the top performers from any manufacturer," GeeksPhone claims on its Web site for Blackphone. "It has the features necessary to do all the things you need, as well as all the things you want, while maintaining your privacy and security and giving you the freedom to choose your carrier, your apps, and your location."
For Regular Consumers
Not everything is known about the device, but so far, the phone appears to be targeted at regular consumers rather than people with extensive security and encryption knowledge. Almost every function of the phone includes some form of protection from prying eyes, but the encryption mechanisms within Blackphone are at least somewhat hidden from users.
Phil Zimmermann, the creator of PGP encryption, also made an appearance in Blackphone's product video.
"I have spent my whole career working towards the launch of secure telephony products," he says in the video. "Blackphone provides users with everything they need to ensure privacy and control of their communications, along with all the other high-end smartphone features they have come to expect."
No matter how many high-end and mainstream features are included in Blackphone, its creators will undoubtedly face the same problem that other new manufactures have, attracting users away from well-known companies. Had the NSA revelations never occurred, the chance that a security-centric smartphone could succeed with the public would be far less likely, but that may no longer be the case.