The company behind the launch of the £11,400 Solarin smartphone seems to have pulled the plug on it and is consequently letting go of a third of its staff.
The development was first reported by Israeli publication Calcalist, then confirmed by a number of other titles including Business Insider. Sirin Labs provided statements employing tried and tested euphemisms for failure such as “pursuing new directions”, but also insisted it’s still making the Solarin and providing support for it.
This comes over as damage limitation. The company is presumably keen to shift as much of its remaining unsold stock as possible, having registered just $10 million in sales since launch according to Techcrunch, which equates to around 700,000 units. While that’s not much in the context of an industry that shipped 1.5 billion units in 2016, it’s still a surprisingly large number of people with more money than sense.
Most of us, of course, don’t operate in the ultra-high end of the market, with its Italian sports cars, six-star hotels, and many other obscenely opulent trappings. You can easily drop many thousands on even a watch but the smartphone as a status symbol seems to have peaked at the iPhone. Sirin Labs attempted to add value with some bespoke security features but on function alone those don’t come anywhere near justifying the price premium.
In terms of pricing strategy, ‘reassuringly expensive’ has its place, but usually when coupled with a reassuring or prestigious brand. With Solarin Sirin labs tried to create a market for luxury smartphones without the brand or product to fuel it. There are clearly some people with so much money that ten grand is meaningless to them but not enough, it seems, to base a business on.