Dialed down: Spain's Geeksphone exits the smartphone business

Spanish mobile device maker Geeksphone has confirmed that it is ceasing the development of smartphones, with its co-founders splitting up (mostly on to other manufacturing adventures).
Dialed down: Spain's Geeksphone exits the smartphone business

Founded in 2009, Madrid, Spain-based Geeksphone is saying adiós to the smartphone business, after having developed six phones in less than six years. It's not really a surprise, given that the small company last month unceremoniously announced that it was pulling support for Firefox OS, but a press release published on its forum yesterday (but curiously dated 20 June) has now made things official.

The announcement says all engineering talent has passed to Silent Circle's Blackphone, including Geeksphone partners Ana Gay-Puente and co-founder Javier Agüera. A few months ago, Silent Circle raised $50 million in new funding partly to buy Geeksphone out of its joint venture (Geeksphone served as hardware partner for the Blackphone device).

Another Geeksphone co-founder María Alzola, is leaving the company, while Rodrigo Silva-Ramos and Angel Sánchez Díaz will be focusing on making wearable devices under the geeks!me brand. Their first endeavour: a smartwatch that is able to track sexual activity.

Geeksphone was the first Spanish company to develop a smartphone, the first European company to launch an Android-based handset and the first global brand to launch a Firefox OS mobile device together with Telefónica and the Mozilla Foundation.

In the press release, the company says it has "always worked for its users in order to bring innovation, freshness, quality, style and to differentiate their mobile devices" but that this philosophy is exactly what made it hard to compete in the smartphone industry for such as small outfit.

"Mobile telephony has changed a lot in recent years," comments Rodrigo Silva-Ramos. "Our perception is that it is now a sector with great actors who have come to be where they are without much concern for innovation and without being concerned by the needs of its users."

And so Geeksphone has made available to 'the community' all the tools that it is "legally able to spread" for further development; the company also curiously posits that it has licensing agreements with third parties who can not be made public yet.

"In short, everything that belongs to Geeksphone belongs to its users," Rodrigo Silva-Ramos says.

Geeksphone is today trying hard to clarify in Spanish-language media that it is not shutting down as a company, just exiting the smartphone business.

The news of Geeksphone's withdrawal from the smartphone business comes as Finland's Jolla is splitting into two companies (one focused on mobile software Sailfish OS, the other on hardware).

It's safe to say that it's getting very hard out there for upstart mobile device manufacturers (but they'll keep trying anyway, which is awesome).

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