HTC, the Taiwanese consumer electronics giant, recently rolled-out a plan for the second-generation model of its blockchain-centric smartphone Exodus, later in 2019. Phil Chen, HTC’s chief decentralized officer, revealed that the sales performance of the first-generation Exodus phone managed to meet company’s expectations. It gave HTC the confidence and push to delve into a second-generation project.
Chen also revealed that bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) cryptocurrency users are a source of demand for the Exodus 1. In addition to that, there is considerable demand for the blockchain-centric phone from new startups that engage in cryptocurrency trading more frequently. Consumer demand seems to be another driving force behind the new phone.
HTC was once among the leading smartphone manufacturers. However, with the inception of more competition, it lost both its glory and its market as it got removed from the Taiwanese Stock Exchange’s list of 50 largest firms back in 2015. Over the past few years, HTC hasn’t been a huge player in the smartphone space but that wasn’t always the case.
HTC started out as a white label device maker giving carriers an option to sell devices branded with their name. Additionally, the company also manufactured PDAs in order to compete in the budding smartphone market. Fast forward a couple of years and HTC was rolling out their very own touch line with products like the Touch Diamond, Touch Pro, Touch 3G and Touch HD.
However, HTC couldn’t keep up once the South Korean tech giant Samsung started releasing their Android phones and despite the fact that the Taiwanese company did try to put up a fight by launching top-notch phones like the One X in 2012, One Max in 2013 and One (M8) in 2014, it didn’t matter much. Samsung had already taken over and was leaping forward, leaving eceryone behind.
HTC’s interest and investment in a blockchain-centric phone could be an ace in the hole for the company in order to regain its lost glory. After announcing the first of its kind HTC Exodus, the company is already working on a second-generation blockchain smartphone in a bid to boost up the smartphone sales and to expand their blockchain ecosystem.
The HTC Exodux 1 comes with a pre-loaded Blockfolio, an application for tracking price fluctuations of various coins. Another feature, and an important one at that, is the Zion wallet, which allows users to store and transact with bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and a few dozen tokens and collectibles built on the Ethereum blockchain.
The new model, as revealed by Chen, will extend its blockchain-supported apps to areas such as browsing, messaging and even social media. The new communication applications will be fundamentally based on peer-to-peer connections as opposed to being routed via cloud or mainframe boards, as was the case in the previous generation phone.
Undoubtedly, HTC’s opponents have grown stronger over the past years but Chen adamantly believes that Exodus is the only phone that empowers users to own their private keys, which he thinks is a fundamental principle of the decentralized web. In an interview, he shared that increased privacy is what makes the phone better than its opponents. Chen said:
…if you were to not care about privacy. In that case, that wouldn’t be my target audience for the Exodus. My audience would be those who are concerned about this (privacy) or are concerned about what is being collected, what is sold, and who it is sold to.
The future of HTC’s blockchain smartphones doesn’t seem so bleak considering the phone’s manufacturing is in the same hands that worked on Google’s premium pixel brand smartphones because of the company’s US$1.1 billion deal with Google.
The deal happened last year in September and involved about 2,000 HTC employees joining the world’s largest internet company to develop smartphones and other devices. Google’s investment in HTC provided the struggling brand with another lifeline of sorts to get back in the game. On the other hand, the same deal enabled Google to obtain a non-exclusive license for HTC’s intellectual property.
HTC and Blockchain
HTC has been investing time and resources exploring the blockchain and crypto space. Aside from their phone related blockchain endeavors, HTC has also been involved with virtual reality. Earlier in April, HTC led a new $50 million blockchain-focused venture capital fund. The new blockchain fund is reportedly held in fiat currency and focused on “regular VC deals, as opposed to token-based investments”. It includes a partnership with HTC which will purportedly allow Proof of Capital portfolio companies to work with HTC directly in order to develop services or products for Exodus and potentially other HTC blockchain ventures.
HTC could very well resurge in the market with its blockchain-centric approach.