In a tale of two fledgling blockchain phones, one, the Solana Saga, has slashed its selling price while the other, the Ethereum Phone, is preparing to begin shipping.
Both devices are generally aimed at fusing mobility with Web3, the third iteration of the internet that incorporates open-source software, blockchain transaction ledgers, decentralized governance, and native payments based on token-based economics.
The saga of the Saga
Saga is a creation of Solana Labs, which created the Solana blockchain platform in 2020, and in June 2022 announced Solana Mobile as a subsidiary aimed at creating a Web3-focused smartphone, Saga, which debuted in the US market during April 2023.
Solana Labs and its Solana blockchain platform are known primarily within the cryptocurrency community. Solana Mobile and the Saga phone have even less mass market name recognition. It seemed probable that Solana’s Saga would struggle to attract buyers, so it wasn’t a surprise that after launching at a cost of $1,000, Saga’s price was slashed to $599 in August 2023. Some Saga buyers who paid the original price only to see it slashed by 40% just four months after the phone’s debut have publicly expressed their displeasure, not exactly a good sign for a nascent product that needs to build goodwill.
Blockchain and a Web3 ethOS
Some observers attribute Saga’s price reduction to the impending arrival of new competition from a company based in Delaware (US), Freedom Factory. Like many blockchain and cryptocurrency projects, Freedom Factory is a community-led effort with global reach. Its small team developed both ethOS, a free, open-source native mobile operating (OS) system, and the new Ethereum Phone, also called ethOS.
Preorders for the first 50 Ethereum Phones began on August 22, 2023, and sold out in 24 hours. Particular NFTs worth 0.39 Ethers (ETH), or nearly $650, had to be minted to qualify for a preorder, which means the phone was selling at a premium, given that a regular Google Pixel 7A retails for $499 in the US. After preorders begin shipping, regular orders are slated to open in fall 2023.
Looking ahead with blockchain
The promise of blockchain phones to fuse mobility and Web3 is captivating. Though it’s unclear whether there will ever be a substantial market for these niche devices, their Web3-oriented features and functionalities could migrate to smartphones that are marketed to a broader swath of the mass market.