Solana’s Web3 Phone Is A “Opportunity” Against Google And Apple, According To Co-founder

It’s been nearly four months since layer-1 blockchain Solana announced its web3-focused smartphone Saga, and the plan has shifted as the phone approaches its official release date. “Our goal isn’t to sell 10 million units,” Solana co-founder Anatoly Yakovenko said onstage at Disrupt 2022. “We’d be thrilled if 25,000 to 50,000 units were sold in the next year; that would be fantastic.” While it’s not easy to launch a new phone successfully, as we’ve seen with countless other companies’ efforts, Yakovenko hinted that Solana is looking to approach the launch differently. Yakovenko added that this is a tool for attracting developers. “This is a developer’s game.” Yakovenko spent the majority of his professional career at Qualcomm before founding Solana, and he has worked with other major tech companies such as Facebook and Windows to develop mobile phones. It’s worth noting that many of them failed. The main difference now, according to Yakovenko, is that it is less capital-intensive. “One of the moon shots,” Yakovenko explained. “We can do this because it’s inexpensive enough to try.” It isn’t going to break the bank or anything.” According to Yakovenko, the phone market has matured to the point where teams can quickly build a device with small modifications to an Android to enable a web3 experience. “The opportunity exists right now because we don’t need to sell $10 million right away.” We can target a very small niche audience of crypto-heavy web3 users.” If there is a web3 distribution channel for mobile crypto developers, it will allow them to build experiences outside of the laptop-centric digital asset ecosystem, according to Yakovenko. He joked that users would not have to sign into four different applications to create a crypto transaction. “Those are the flywheels we require for the following cycle.” “Imagine you have 50,000 to 100,000 people trading on Magic Eden every day,” Yakovenko said. “With hundreds of millions of users, that’s a more lucrative distribution channel for developers than app stores.” Right now, all of the money in web3 is concentrated in these small niche groups.” Separately, the web3-focused phone will allow content creators and platforms to grant digital ownership rights to both organizations and users, as opposed to paying the 30% tax on app sales that Apple and Google impose. True digital ownership necessitates treating digital items as if they were physical, which neither Apple nor Google are built for, according to Yakovenko. “They’re based on a rent-seeking model, in which the creator owns all of the content and you, the user, rent it.” When you buy a video from Amazon, you don’t own it; everyone knows that.” According to Yakovenko, neither Google nor Apple wants to take on web3 because true digital asset ownership would disrupt their business models. “If you’re a content creator with an app in the iOS store, you can eat the 30% fee and give it to Apple.” Magic Eden can’t sell a $10,000 NFT for $13,000 on the iOS app, they can’t add tax, and they can’t eat it because that would eat into profits.” “The opportunity is right now,” said Yakovenko. “I’m not sure what needs to change internally for Google and Apple to drop the 30% tax on apps.” It’s simply too good to give up in the next five years.” So, while those two mega corporations continue to impose their 30% tax, there is a “wedge that exists.” Saga intends to implement digital asset products and services, allowing users to transact with cryptocurrency via the device rather than a laptop browser. Along with Saga, it is also launching Solana Mobile Stack, or SMS, which is a web3 layer for Solana built on the phone. “If crypto grows from 10 million monthly active users to 100 million monthly active users in the next five years, I would imagine the SMS stack or the phone itself will grow as well,” Yakovenko said. Then, perhaps Google or Apple will reconsider the tax and allow for similar web3 experiences as Saga desires. “That would be a victory,” Yakovenko stated. “In crypto, we would have won for everyone.” That would be fantastic.”

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