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HTC Exodus Blockchain-Centric Smartphone Is Set To Release Later This Year

HTC, a Taiwan-based electronics hardware manufacturer, announced their Exodus phone earlier this year. As per previous reports, the Exodus was touted as the “world’s first major blockchain phone.”

The media went into a frenzy over this announcement, with many speculating about how this would change the blockchain and cryptocurrency scene.

But at the time of the original announcement, no one knew exactly what the device would entail, and what blockchains it would support. Phil Chen, an HTC executive, gave an ambitious statement in May, stating: 

We envision a phone where you hold your own keys, you own your own identity and data, and your phone is the hub.

In this most recent announcement, HTC gave more details in regard to the Exodus Blockchain smartphone, clearing the air around this hot topic.

Unfortunately, Chen noted that HTC’s plan for an “own your own identity and data” smartphone will not come to fruition in the form of the Exodus, but rather in a later release.

Yesterday, the HTC executive told The Verge that Exodus’s blockchain support will come in the form of an in-house crypto wallet and a CryptoKitties service integration. These features being a far cry from the ambitious plans HTC held preceding this announcement.

However, the HTC team still has high hopes for these two features. More specifically, Chen claims that the built-in wallet will be “the most secure hardware wallet out there,” possibly surpassing the security of cold wallet solutions like the Ledger and Trezor.

In terms of the unexpected CryptoKitty support, the executive hopes that the gamification of the blockchain will entice ‘no-coiners’ to give the Exodus a shot. He elaborated, noting:

Gaming is the most approachable thing on mobile, for the non-crypto crowd.

Despite these features disappointing some, Chen mentioned that there are plans in place to implement mobile cryptocurrency mining. He later added that there is already “famous” experts looking into a variety of different consensus protocols that might make Exodus mobile mining a reality. The HTC employee noted that the Taiwan-based firm might even release a white paper later this year, giving more details about this mining system.

However, these features do not come at a cheap price, as Chen implied that preliminary estimates will put the retail cost of the Exodus at approximately $1000. One must assume that top of the line hardware will be an integral part of this blockchain smartphone, or HTC would have no chance at selling this device at all.

HTC Exodus: An All Or Nothing Play For The Hardware Manufacturer?

When taking a look at HTC’s recently released financial statements, it becomes easy to tell that prospects are looking rather grim for the company. According to CNET, HTC’s sale figures dropped a staggering 68%, while compared with last year’s financials.

The manufacturer has been having a rough time trying to compete with smartphone giants, Apple and Samsung. The Verge pointed out that sales for the company have taken a tumble, from two million products in 2017 Q1 to just 630,000 at the start of this year. As a result, the Taiwan-based firm intends to lay off 1,500 employees in an attempt to bring its bottom line to a more sustainable level.

In short, HTC is in a precarious financial situation and has troubled to stay afloat in the unforgiving smartphone market. But many speculate that the company is riding on the success of the Q3 Exodus release, as a successful launch of this phone could see HTC move to clearer waters.

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CryptoKitties to Debut Mobile App on HTC's Flagship Phone

CryptoKitties, the virtual cat breeding game that became so popular it clogged the ethereum network, is to roll out a version for mobile devices through a partnership with Taiwanese phone maker HTC.

CryptoKitties announced the partnership in a release on Tuesday, indicating that the mobile app will first be available on HTC’s flagship phone, the U12+, which was rolled out to market last month.

According to the statement, CryptoKitties – as well as third party applications built on top of the game – will be launched on the HTC device by the end of this year.

The HTC website appears to indicate that the mobile app will first be offered to users in the U.S. CoinDesk reached out to CryptoKitties, but by press time had had no reply on whether users in other HTC markets will have access to the app upon its official launch.

As well as the U12+, the new CryptoKitties product will be included in the app offerings for HTC’s planned Exodus smartphone – a blockchain-focused device announced by the Taiwanese firm during CoinDesk’s Consensus 2018 conference in May.

HTC indicated at the RISE Conference in Hong Kong on Tuesday that it expects to launch the Exodus in the third quarter of this year, but did not disclose an exact date. According to a report from The Verge, buying one is expected set you back around $1,000.

Phone image via CryptoKitties/HTC

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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HTC Plans to Ship a Blockchain Phone This Year

HTC blazed trails in the late 2000s by bringing a smartphone to market based on the Android operating system. Now it wants to do the same with blockchain.

The Taiwanese electronics maker on Tuesday unveiled the Genesis smartphone, which would serve as both a mobile connecting point to the world of decentralized networks and a storage device for those who want to carry their crypto in their pocket.

According to Phil Chen – who previously founded HTC’s Vive virtual reality product line and recently returned to the company to spearhead the Genesis project – the company aims to start distributing the device in short order.

“We’re looking to ship by the end of this year,” Chen told CoinDesk.

While HTC isn’t the only company working on a blockchain-dedicated smartphone – Sirin Labs recently raised $157 million in an initial coin offering to build the “Finney” – it’s by far the biggest company of its kind to undertake the effort.

And the way the product has been internally positioned indicates that HTC sees a powerful role for decentralized technologies, particularly for putting the power to control comsumers’ digital identities firmly in their own hands.

And Raymond Pao, associate vice president of VR New technology for HTC, said that “will be building the framework and phone that powers the decentralized web.”

“We believe smartphones will be a critical component for the entire crypto ecosystem. This phone will act as the hub, just like the PC did in the early days of the Internet,” he told CoinDesk, going on to say:

“If we look at the industry, there are moving in two directions. One side is 100% centralized so that the platform company knows all the details of the users. The value the platform companies can provide is fully customized service to each single person. The more the user shares to the platform company, the better-customized services the platform companies can provide. On the opposite side, there are the users who care about their privacy more and want to own their information and identification. As the phone is the most personal device we use every day, we want to work on the decentralized eco-system with the users who care most about their privacy.”

Focus on usability

Efforts like this point to a deepening relationship between mobile devices and blockchains.

From the plethora of smartphone-based wallet apps to the ability to send cryptocurrency by way of SMS, it’s a combination that has driven both innovation and, for the unlucky, theft.

But challenges aside, HTC is pursuing what could be the next big thing for smartphone development.

Speaking to CoinDesk, Chen said that the goal was to build a product that would provide a high level of security for digital assets stored in the device, but one that also offers an ease of use other crypto-wallets on the market lack.

In particular, the Genesis is set to include a digital storefront for distributed apps, or dapps, in addition to a built-in wallet. The idea is that this store will be connected to offerings around existing blockchain networks, including ethereum. The phone will also have an API built into it so that developers can build additional apps based on the integrated networks.

Indeed, HTC appears to be betting that the ubiquitous nature of the smartphone – data from Statista indicates that nearly 3 billion people today use smartphones worldwide – is a natural fit for blockchain, especially as it relates to greater control over one’s information.

“We really care about this portable identity and users owning their identity and data, and we believe that the phone is the best place to do that,” Chen explained.

Not going it alone

As a major smartphone maker, one might think that HTC is looking to jump into the market with guns blazing.

But according to Chen, the Taiwanese manufacturer is taking a decidedly different approach, reaching out to projects like ethereum and DFinity as it looks to integrate those protocols into the Genesis phone.

“Right now, we’re talking to ethereum, DFinity, and we want to run their clients to optimize for their nodes,” he explained. “We want to be the Switzerland for all protocols, ethereum etc, so the phone can do 20-30 percent of it in terms of verifying. “

“At some point, somebody needs to build a mobile-centric protocol,” he added.

The coming months, Chen went on to say, will see the slow release of additional information about the Genesis, including white papers, specifications and the like.

“We’ll also be releasing some more white papers in the July-August time frame that have more of that, can have the phone be a node as opposed to mid-to-high-end servers,” he told CoinDesk.

And in a nod to the crypto community, a forthcoming pre-sale for the phone will only accept bitcoin and ethereum as payment.

“We’re going to do a pre-sale, and we’ll accept ethereum and bitcoin, for the pre-order,” Chen explained.

HTC phone image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.