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Solana Labs is building a Web3 mobile phone

The Solana Labs, the key stakeholder of the Solana Blockchain, is getting its own mobile phone called “Saga,” an Android handset.

The upcoming device is a modified OSOM handset with a speciality in crypto wallet-related functions and the “Solana Mobile Stack (SMS)” software development kit for Web3 programs. The announcement was made at an event in New York. Solana Labs CEO, Anatoly Yakovenko, explained that the phone will cost about $1,000 and is expected to be available for delivery in early 2023.

The phone marks Solana’s biggest bet yet on mobile-focused growth. It will feature a Web3 dapp (decentralized app) store, integrated “Solana Pay” to facilitate QR code-based on-chain payments, a mobile wallet adapter and a “seed vault” that will store private keys deep within the recesses of the phone.

What you should know

  • Sam Bankman-Fried, CEO of crypto exchange FTX and a key Solana backer, said at the event that, “Everything is going mobile. In most countries, most of the access happens through mobile phones. But crypto mobile is behind the times.” He also noted how clunky accessing dApps on mobile devices is now.
  • Bankman-Fried further stated, “The best solution for this is having the actual wallet built into your phone.”
  • Solana Labs said it will work with other companies to power the ecosystem to build the phone, including Magic Eden, the top NFT (non-fungible token) marketplace, Phantom, the biggest wallet provider, and Orca, a decentralized finance (DeFi) platform.
  • Executives from all three were on hand to discuss the upcoming mobile experience. The executives contrasted the Solana phone app store with the marketplaces from Google and Apple, which take a cut of sales. “There will be no extractive fees,” Yakovenko said of the SMS-fueled store.
  • The Solana Foundation pledged $10 million toward spurring the development of mobile apps on its SMS.
  • Yakovenko, a Solana co-founder, said in a press release, “We live our lives on our mobile devices – except for Web3 because there hasn’t been a mobile-centric approach to private key management. The Solana Mobile Stack shows a new path forward on Solana that is open source, secure, optimized for Web3 and easy to use.

This is not the first Web3 smartphone gambit. Sirin Labs pursued plans in 2018 to ship a blockchain-native phone but faced layoffs and litigation as the product failed to gain traction. When asked about the shortcomings of past attempts to bring crypto-friendly phones to market, Yakovenko, a former Qualcomm engineer, said the Solana phone was better positioned for success because there are more crypto developers in the space relative to 2018.

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