Privacy-first phone-maker Blackphone to launch tablet

Privacy-centric smartphone-maker Blackphone is set to launch a tablet focused on "privacy, security and control."

It's creating a "high-end" tablet with the proprietary operating system PrivatOS, one of the co-founders told CNBC.

"We are in fact working on a tablet. We are not ready to disclose the exact features, but we want it to be a high-end tablet," Jon Callas, chief technology officer of Silent Circle, told CNBC in a phone interview.

"We want it to have the features people who use it every day will demand from it."

Blackphone, developed by Spanish start-up Geeksphone and encrypted communications firm Silent Circle, launched in January, promising the world's first smartphone "placing privacy and control directly in the hands of its users."

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The PrivatOS has features aimed at keeping users' information secure such as encryption tools for sending pictures and browsing the Web, and the same level of protection will feature on the tablet, Callas said

"Our focus is on privacy, security and control," he told CNBC.

Will it stick?

With recent nude celebrity picture leaks from Apple's iCloud, and Edward Snowden's revelations about the extend of the National Security Agency's surveillance reach, analysts agree that this is a good time to be launching a tablet dedicated to privacy.

Still Blackphone's offering could run into problems.

While Callas would not disclose a price, analysts said that the tablet is likely to have limited distribution and a big price tag.

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"The first challenge is whether it would have a big distribution and sell to enough consumers. The second challenge is brand awareness and the third challenge is whether consumers would want to pay extra for that extra security," said Neil Mawston, mobile analyst at Strategy Analytics.

The Blackphone tablet will be entering an extremely competitive market where Samsung and Apple combined hold 44 percent of market share, according to IDC.

Missing major app store

Another issue: Unlike its competitors, PrivatOS doesn't have a major app store. While consumers can download Amazon's app store, it does not have access to the hundreds of thousands of apps on Google Play, the largest Android app store, which is not available on the operating system.

Callas told CNBC that while he would like to have Google services on the phone, not having the U.S. technology giant's offerings is appealing to at least some consumers.

"They are useful, but Google services are [the] biggest collectors of data around," he said. A call to Google was not returned.

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Callas also added that Blackphone is looking to have a "commercial app store very soon." While he did not disclose the name, he said it would be "one of the major ones."

Users will still be able to download popular services like Facebook, but using any data-collecting app would obviate whatever benefits the Blackphone offers, said Ian Fogg, head of mobile at IHS.

"If a consumer concerned about privacy and wants to use Facebook or Google they have to make a decision:
By using those they don't benefit from the levels of privacy protection the Blackphone is offering, but if they embrace the Blackphone fully they have to use the applications they are offering," said Fogg. Facebook did not reply to a request for comment.