The Challenge of HTC’s Blockchain Phone

HTC Exodus
Image credit: HTC

The Battleground

With the upcoming launch of their Exodus model, HTC is declaring itself a leader in blockchain-powered phone tech. HTC is promising to deliver to the market a phone that will place it firmly on the cutting edge of portable devices capability. Beyond its technology alone, this is undoubtedly a good marketing tag for HTC. Even so, who else is circling to challenge for the title of ‘blockchain leader’ in smartphones?

As we shift to a truly digital economy, recent years have seen a great emphasis placed upon the ease of user payments. The rise of contactless tap-and-go technology has complemented apps like Google Pay and Apple Pay.

Thanks to the popularity of smartphone devices — and the robust security they can now offer a regular user — ATM withdrawal via the app alone (AKA ‘cardless cash’) have become common.
Despite the popularity of new payment methods here, the embrace of cryptocurrency across the smartphone world has been more cautious.

While there have been small steps taken and flirtations with bigger things, there’s often been ‘progress’ akin to one step forward, two steps back. Apple even going so far as to ban mining in their developer guidelines for their flagship iPhone range. HTC is indeed a trailblazer in this field, and it may well be a while before other major phone manufacturers seek such a bold path.

Competition Heating Up

Litecoin’s founder Charlie Lee announced he would serve as an adviser to Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer. For HTC this is a real boon. Lee will serve as a crucial source of expertise as they seek to bring a smartphone with a dedicated crypto wallet to market.

The phone will support Bitcoin and Ethereum alongside Litecoin, with the potential for other cryptos to follow. Though HTC’s work here is exciting, they are not alone in this space. Sirin Labs is also bringing to market the Finney phone, which will offer a 2-in-1 display setup (via a slider at the back) that will deliver a dedicated crypto screen to monitor all current crypto transactions.

Just like HTC, Sirin claims this phone is the wave of the future – and while it’s clear the future is one where cryptos and blockchain will drive new growth – in this early model tech it remains unclear if either HTC or Sirin delivers a surefire success.

Competition with one another ensures neither will rest of their laurels and branding as a pioneer alone.

Wow Factor

The difficulty for many smartphone manufacturers is multilayered when it comes to embracing blockchain and cryptocurrencies. The ability to market integrated phone features in this field as an asset must come with the readiness to detail why they are not a liability. The reality is many potential customers amidst the general public still don’t feel they really ‘get’ blockchain.

All new smartphones require a wow factor. It remains a tough argument to put forward blockchain to the general public at the expense of another new piece of tech or ‘killer app’ in marketing.

Right now the release of HTC’s Exodus is understood to be imminent, with Sirin set for a November debut.  Each phone’s reception once on the market is likely to illustrate not only the appetite for each model but blockchain-powered smartphone tech, given the blockchain-heavy marketing each has placed behind their phone. Overall this is most certainly an exciting new chapter, and whatever the success of the HTC or Sirin on launch, they’ve kickstarted a new conversation. For those of us who adore the potential of all things blockchain, this is commendable.


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