The land of the decentralized internet remains uncharted territory for the most part. This is a time for bold explorers and HTC, the mobile phone company, is one of them.
HTC is not one of the world’s big players when it comes to cell phones. It can’t really compete with Samsung, Apple or even Huawei, and it knows it. That’s why it’s not even trying, which is not to say that the company isn’t working very hard.
Samsung and Apple have found a way to make the current conventional technology in their favor. By that, we mean the centralized server paradigm and rigid environments controlled by huge corporations. HTC is betting for the newer, different option, based in decentralization. And it confirmed that today by presenting a new smartphone that breaks new ground in decentralized technology. It’s called Exodus 1s.
A full bitcoin node
The new smartphone is cheaper but more advanced than Exodus 1, which arrived in the market last year. The new equipment would be the first mobile capable of act as a full Bitcoin node (out of the box). No extra hardware or software needed. Thus the new device makes it quicker for more folks to transact and exchange value on the Bitcoin blockchain. And because of its size, it can expand the Bitcoin network in unsuspected ways.
That’s all good, of course, but there’s more. Philip Chen, HTC’s first decentralized chief officer, says that the full node capability along with other decentralized services that are also included out-of-the-box in the new mobile will enable app developers to seize the magic of decentralized networks more quickly. Decentralization makes censorship much harder and empowers users to administrate their money or their privacy more closely.
Concerns about how large corporations like Amazon or Facebook influence our social lives and economic habits keep deepening. The new phone is a step in a new direction. It points the way toward a fix in which those concerns can be dealt with by rebuilding the web and decentralize it from scratch.
“Running a node is maybe the most important part of the blockchain as it helps secure the network, every one of them acts as an authoritative verifier of every single transaction of the block,” explained Mr. Chen who is at the heart of HTC’s crypto endeavor “For Exodus customers, we’re building technology for the open, neutral, borderless, decentralized and censorship-resistant world.”
The Bitcoin network is currently comprised of 9.000 fully functional nodes. These are computers that verify blockchain transactions and keep the ledger updated. Each node maintains a full copy of the ledger. Every operation in Bitcoin’s history is stored there, from day one.
A fully functional copy of Bitcoin’s blockchain needs around 200 gigabytes of storage these days, and it’s currently growing at 60 gigabytes yearly, according to Mr. Chen. That’s just too much data for a smartphone to manage.
That’s why the Exodus 1s will support a lighter, more manageable version, which needs only 10 gigabytes to operate. However, every phone will support extra SD card storage so it can really support full-node services. It’s important to understand that serving as a full node is not the same as mining Bitcoin at all. These phones won’t do that but, Mr. Chen thinks that even that will be possible in the future.
The model 1s includes a Zion private vault, just as the original Exodus model. It’s isolated from the rest of the phone to increase security in private key storage. But unlike the original model, the 1s will allow developers to develop and deploy decentralized applications on top of Zion. The vault supports Bitcoin, Ether, and Litecoin among other digital assets.
The new product puts HTC in the league of innovative companies that are providing solutions based on decentralization so users and other companies can have options other than centralized options like Facebook or Equifax. The new decentralized alternatives are less prone to allow privacy violations and outside hacks.
“Right now most apps typically connect directly into centralized services,” says Chen. “If we can help increase the number of full nodes, we can make it a lot easier for app developers to do it right, which will benefit everyone.”
Another feature in 1s is Qwant. It’s an internet search engine that doesn’t keep track or history of searches, and it doesn’t filter the results either. The new model also includes a social key-recovery system that doesn’t depend on banks or central authorities.
A phone’s new owner will identify a group of trusted individuals. That “committee” will authorize access to Zion if the password is forgotten, lost or stolen. The phone’s browser is Opera (which is also focused on privacy). Other good stuff includes Blockfolio, the crypto tracker, and Numbers which is a service that allows you to monetize your personal data.
The new 1s will be available to the market during Q3, and it’s expected to cost somewhere between USD 250 to 300. Crypto enthusiasts will be able to buy it using Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ether and a few other digital coins. The price means that the new toy will be quite cheaper than its predecessor, Exodus 1, which was at USD 700.
The market’s reaction to Exodus 1 was ambiguous. Some hailed it as a technological breakthrough. Few others called it a mere marketing trick. It must be said that the phone’s sales didn’t break the bank.
It’s worth remembering that the current HTC involvement with blockchain technology required a change in the company’s priorities. HTC was a proponent of centralized technology six years ago. Back then, it released the HTC First (also known as “the Facebook phone”) in direct partnership with Facebook. It was a complete failure.
HTC is bold by committing to blockchain technology at every level. It has the competitive advantage of being unique because it’s the only smartphone manufacturer providing users with phones that are optimized (hardware and software) to join the crypto verse without any additional requirements. In that sense, it’s breaking new ground.
There are significant advantages to being the first. But there are also many risks.
HTC has been around since 1997 when it was founded in Taiwan. Since then it’s released many pioneering products. The HTC Kangaroo was the world’s first Windows CE PDA in 1998. Ten years later it produced the world’s first Google Android smartphone (HTC Dream). And last year the Exodus was the world’s first crypto-enabled device.
But the advantages of running a Bitcoin node in your own personal phone are far from obvious, except for connectivity with dApps that, it must be said, don’t even exist yet. Data consumption alone could be a nightmare if your provider doesn’t have a generous and cost-effective data plan.
In any case, we hope that every phone manufacturer in the world, starting with the more influential ones, adopts a friendlier stance on cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. It would be good for them, for their clients and users, and also for the world’s crypto aficionados. In that regard, HTC could become an example to follow by the competition.
It will be exciting to follow how the market embraces (or not) the new Exodus 1s. It could change the industry forever or be utterly irrelevant. It will all depend on its usability and adoption by the users of the world. The new price-tag will surely help with that, as it’s more accessible than the first Exodus. But we’ll all have to wait and see.
Disclaimer: The presented information is subjected to market condition and may include the very own opinion of the author. Please do your ‘very own’ market research before making any investment in cryptocurrencies. Neither the writer nor the publication (TronWeekly.com) holds any responsibility for your financial loss.