HTC revealed its blockchain-focused smartphone on Tuesday, the Exodus 1, as the manufacturer wants to reorganize its strategy to focus primarily on a new technology. The Taiwanese phone creator stated that it developed its own cryptocurrency wallet Zion to create its new phone function as a hardware cryptocurrency wallet.
The Exodus 1 includes a secure enclave — a secluded space on the phone’s chip which is being kept separate from the Android operating system (OS) it runs on — that uses technology made by SoftBank’s Arm Holdings to keep a user’s crypto safe.
Phil Chen, HTC’s decentralized chief officer, stated:
Think of it as a micro OS that runs in parallel with Android. It basically is a wallet, but the wallet, what it does is hold your private keys.
Private keys are lines of code which are meant to be known only to the owner of a cryptocurrency to allow them access to their funds.
Chen stated the advantage of keeping this space on the phone separate from Android was that Google’s OS is “fundamentally insecure with a centralized system,” and thus storing crypto using Android would make a user’s money more prone to a hack.
He explained the importance of integrating blockchain technology in the phone because it makes the security and privacy of a user’s assets stronger and will continue to do so in the future while making sure a customer’s data and identity are protected.
“The dominant companies in our world today are Google and Facebook, and in China, Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent, because they basically own all our data. And the reason why you do a blockchain phone is … for everybody just to own their own keys. Everything starts there. When you start owning your own keys, then you can start owning your own digital identity, then you can start to own data.”
Besides its blockchain features, the Exodus 1 will also include:
- A 16-megapixel dual main camera and an 8MP dual front camera with 4K video.
- A six-inch display with quad-HD+ resolution.
- A QualcommSnapdragon 845 processor.
- Six gigabytes of RAM and 128GB of storage.
Exodus 1 is available for a pre-order at a price of 0.15 bitcoins or 4.78 ether tokens, which is approximately $960 and is expected to be shipped by December. The expensiveness of the phone puts it on similar grounds with premium smartphones in the market like Apple’s iPhone XS and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9.
But it should be noted that the crypto world is famous for its fluctuations. Mostly Bitcoin, which is notorious for its rise and fall of hundreds and hundreds of dollars in just a few hours sometimes.
“It’s definitely important that there’s this excitement and this huge crypto bubble and people are paying attention and buying bitcoin and ether. But is this the most important thing? Is this the reason why we’re doing this blockchain phone? No. Selling it in crypto only and being the first to do so means we are bringing this directly to the core audience and those who will want this device — the blockchain community.”
Because of the decline in its own phone sales, HTC had no option but to diversify its business. For instance, stepping into virtual reality with the HTC Vive, in partnership with gaming firm Steam.
Chen explained that the primary focus on blockchain was a part of the firm’s reorganizing strategy when it comes to smartphones, which, in his own words will prioritize software and intellectual property.
“We believe blockchain is the new paradigm for smartphones and it will form part of HTC’s wider smartphone strategy. This marks a change in HTC, with an increased focus on software and IP. So I think it could be the start of (HTC) attracting more investors or attracting new OEMs (original equipment manufacturers).”
And when it comes to the approximately $960 price tag, Shah stated it is relatively high, however appropriate having in mind that the HTC is targeting individuals involved in crypto.
I think it could be slightly high but I think it would also be a fair price tag if they’re targeting that particular segment, because they are trading and have made money off blockchain technology,” he said.