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Maker of a $14,000 super-secure phone gets cold feet after low sales force cuts

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Even with plenty of investment and an untapped market niche, it's hard to make an impact in today's crowded smartphone world.

Proving that making an impact in the smartphone world is really difficult today, even with plenty of investment and an apparently underserved niche audience, Sirin Labs — makers of the massively expensive Solarin phone — has decided to investigate other projects, and made 30 of its staff redundant.

The Solarin phone was launched almost a year ago, at an event attended by celebrities including (briefly, and almost incognito), Tom Hardy and Leonardo DiCaprio, and was marketed as a super secure, unhackable smartphone for the super rich. It costs upwards of $14,000. Naturally, it wasn’t a phone for everyone, and fewer than 750 devices have been sold since, a figure based on numbers quoted to TechCrunch.

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While the Solarin was technically impressive, there were many question marks over just how secure the device really was, its ultimate usefulness when used to communicate with other devices, and how much the extra services would end up costing. The phone was sold through Sirin Labs own boutique store in London, in the Harrods department store, and online.

Having failed to make the impact needed to sustain the smartphone business, a local report from Israeli newspaper Calcalist said Sirin Labs was making 30 members of its staff — a third of its total workforce — redundant, and considering shifting away from phones, and toward computing devices. The Solarin is apparently still being made, can still be purchased, and will continue to be supported by Sirin Labs. However, the company is, “pursuing new directions to a new product line,” and is restructuring staff according to a spokesman in a statement.

Sirin Labs had $72 million in seed funding investment, and its CEO and founder is Moshe Hogeg, known not only for Sirin Labs but also for photo app Mobli and the impossibly simple, bizarrely popular-at-the-time Yo app. He is also working on the InfinityAR project, which has gained $18 million in funding for its headset. The exact future for Sirin Labs, and the Solarin phone, is unknown.