Being incognito with the Blackphone

In a time wherein privacy and data issues are becoming more and more important, manufacturer Silent Circle recently introduced a new smartphone on the market that is called the Blackphone.

The Blackphone isn’t just a random smartphone. Since the smartphone market is dealing with fierce competition, the people behind Silent circle may have thought that differentiation could do the trick in entering this market. So the question arises; what is it that makes the manufacturer think that the Blackphone will find a place in the though smartphone market?

Like Silent Circle parades ‘Blackphone is the world’s first smartphone to put privacy and control ahead of everything else. Ahead of carriers. Ahead of advertising.’ (, 2014)

What becomes clear is contrast to other smartphone developers, Silent Circle put privacy concern ahead of other specifications. With this business model, the Blackphone responses to the longing of the customer for data privacy. Herewith, the Blackphone thus seems to response to the long tail of the mobile phone market.

The Blackphone runs on a customized version of Android. The user of the mobile phone can operate without being watched or traced due to the encryption of calls, texts, emails and Internet browsing. The phone seemed not to be secured enough in the first instance, since hackers succeed to hack the system. However, after cooperation with the hackers Silent Circle succeed to make an ‘incognito’ mobile phone.

Since the release late june 2014, the sales numbers are all except disappointing. CEO Mike Janke recently stated that his firm is, despite their role as newcomer in the market, already making profit. Moreover, Janke pronounced that he expects that the next year a total of 2 million Blackphones will be sold.

I think that the business model of Silent Circle, and thus the Blackphone concept, stands or falls by the question whether they will be able to maintain the status of ‘being safe and secured’. So potential hacking attacks might affect the success of the Blackphone in a crucial way.

How do you guy’s think about this recent phone launch? Would you consider to buy a Blackphone or do you think that privacy concerns play a less important role in the process of choosing a new mobile phone?

Poort, F. (2014), 13 october 2014

Kraan, J. (2014), 13 october 2014

Author unknown (2014), 13 octover 2014


3 responses to “Being incognito with the Blackphone”

  1. chengbond says :

    I have heard about the Blackphone before, but I do not think that it is on my wish list of smartphones I want. Although privacy is nowadays very valuable, I do not think that this can be solved by creating a smartphone that has ‘privacy enhanced’ features. If people really care about their privacy, you should tackle the problem at its roots, not building something around it. Facebook, for example, is one of the major problems of all privacy concerns. If you really wish to maintain your privacy, you should leave those platforms. Furthermore, I do not think that people tend to care about their privacy. Think about the nude leaks of the celebrities. They all knew the risks, but still took those pictures. Recently, a lot of Snapchat pictures were leaked on the Internet, including photo’s you do (not) want to see. If you want to raise awareness about the dangers of the Internet, I think that there are better ways than providing a secured smartphone. The people that use these kind of devices and programs need to be aware of these dangers, not the device itself. As I mentioned earlier, I will not buy this smartphone. It does not suit my needs, since I am more interested in the design of the smartphone, but also the hardware(capabilities) of a smartphone. Also, I use social media and other apps, but I am more conservative with posts on Facebook and usage of applications. I also think that they have competition from a almost non-existent company called Blackberry, that provides smartphones and services to important people like Barack Obama and Angela Merkel. They already have proven to be secure in the business world, but lost their position in the consumer market. You have asked us the question about whether we would buy this phone or not, but you have not clarified it yourself. Would you but this phone or would you rather follow the (main)stream?

  2. 321415dh says :

    First of all; an interesting blog that was very informative about a product I haven’t heard of 15 minutes ago. Personally I don’t really care if my mobile (or computer) is secure or not. If my data is being used for more specific advertising, so be it, it could lead to less inconvenient advertising and more advertising where I made make use off.

    But the first thing that went through my head when starting to read your blog was; ‘Criminals’. The phone might be intended for ‘innocent, superstitious people’, but in my eyes also is an interesting gadget for people who don’t want their phone data to be tracked for far more illegal actions. To the extend I understand this device, it encrypts your calls, messages and data traffic. High end criminals are probably already using encrypted phones to do their business, but this device makes it easier for, for example, street drugs dealers to acquire a device that cannot be tracked by the authorities.


    Toby Wei-Jones said:”The availability of a tool does not creat the intent for mischief. If you’re a bad guy, the fact [Blackphone] is making cryptography usable doesn’t mean you’re going to take that a step further; you’re not going to become bad because of that knowledge either.”
    The fact he is stating is of course correct, but this also confirm my idea that this gadget can help in hiding when you do something criminal. And Toby Wei-Jones does not include the fact the easier access to this phone could encourage misuse.
    If this phone would indeed be helpful in criminal activities the makers of the Blackphone might think about how to assist for example the CIA when it is know that a potential terrorist is using the blackphone.

  3. marcovandelft354680 says :

    In my opinion the launch of the Blackphone is a logical response to the recent privacy threats that are occurring in this world. It began with whistleblower Snowden, who claimed that (among others) the NSA is spying on practically everyone. More recently there was the massive nude picture leak caused by apparently an iCloud error. These are both examples of why our society has the demand for more security in its digital life. Looking at it this way, there is no argument against the Blackphone.

    Although I really like my privacy, I don’t think a phone like this is the solution. As chengbond stated earlier, you need to stop a problem at its roots. Don’t upload all your private documents or photos to the cloud, don’t trust any kind of software instantly. Use your head. In addition to this I don’t believe there will be software that is un hackable. If someone really wants to hurt you, he or she will always be able to so via software.

    I will personally not be considering this phone due to a the reasons that I mentioned above. In addition to this, I am already set in the Apple ecosystem (as many of us are). I don’t think however that the Blackphone will sell poorly. There are enough users that will probably need a phone like this (criminals or not).

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