Eight months on from shipping, the company behind the Blackphone secure Android smartphone has announced the business-oriented Blackphone 2 and a mystery new secure tablet, the Blackphone+.
Some of the detail behind the Mobile World Congress announcement remains opaque but the gist is that a revised version of the core PrivateOS software, version 1.1, will allow the previously standalone Blackphone to function as a secure device for businesses.
This will turn the Blackphone into a fully-fledged platform built on the Silent Circle suite of software with the latter now wholly owning Blackphone after last week’s $50 million (£35 million) injection of venture capital allowed it to buy out handset maker Geeksphone's stake.
Features touted include mobile device management (MDM) integration via Citrix and, in a nod to BYOD, the ‘Spaces OS-level virtualisation technology designed to firewall personal and business apps and data from one another in the manner of Samsung’s Knox.
The Silent Meeting conferencing app has also been made easier to use with a new interface and the ditching of clunky access codes.
Arriving in the “second half of 2015,” the smartphone hardware will also get an upgrade, including using an unspecified 8-core SoC, 3GB of RAM, better battery life and a full HD display.
The Blackphone will still, presumably, be built on the same Spanish Geeksphone Intel Atom-based platform as the first incarnation. This modest handset design has been one wrinkle for the Blackphone, otherwise a premium-priced device retailing for $629 as a one-off.
As for the Blackphone+, only the name itself has been announced with the same later 2015 timescale. Currently, everything else is a state secret, including pricing and hardware spec.
However, pricing for the Blackphone 2 as a business service should end up being similar to the software packages currently on offer from Silent Circle which range from $12.95 to $39.95 per month.
Blackphone’s initial funding was a $30 million round by Ross Perot Jr and Cain Capital, followed last week by another $50 million that has put Silent Circle in complete control of the Blackphone.
One issue with turning what is a secure standalone product into a business device is the firm will need partners, more so if it is to penetrate the corporate world in countries outside the US.
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