On 24th June at a Solana event in New York City, Solana Labs, the company behind public chain Solana, announced that its subsidiary Solana Mobile will develop a flagship Android mobile phone named "Saga". Saga would integrate blockchain technology to make it easy for users to manage their digital assets and explore the Web3 world.
Why does Solana want to expand its ecosystem to the mobile phone industry? It’s simple. The current Web3 experience is mainly localized on a desktop browser. However, mobility in our daily lives is key today.
What is Saga?
Saga is a collaboration between Solana Mobile and Osom, which brands themselves as a privacy-focused hardware maker. Osom seeks to challenge the market dominance of giant smartphone makers like Apple and Samsung. Up until March 2022, Saga was supposed to be the Osom OV1 Smartphone, which was still privacy-focused but lacked this Web3 spin. With Solana’s announcement, OV1 will be replaced by Saga.
While the Saga hardware is designed and manufactured by Osom, the Web3 component of Saga is the Solana Mobile Stack (SMS), a crypto layer built on Android and integrated into the phone.
SMS contains a special encryption wallet with a “Seed Vault” solution, in which the private key and mnemonic phrase will be stored into a hardware security device built to the mobile phone itself. This way, users can easily do cross-platforms approvals via fingerprint verification. Other than the wallet, Saga will also integrate Solana Pay for users to conduct on-chain transactions or payment via QR code. A built-in Web3 DApp application store is another key function that would help users connect to the Web3 world.
To encourage the development of the Solana mobile ecosystem, the Solana Foundation promised $10 million to developers who use the SMS SDK to build mobile DApps. The SDK would simplify the developers’ experience in an Android environment.
Is this a good move? We don’t know yet. However, we definitely can say it is a brave move with potentially successful prospects. Saga is more than a mobile phone — it is a combination of a smartphone and a hardware wallet. If developed well, users can interact with crypto and blockchain anytime and anywhere. And if Saga becomes a huge success, Solana Mobile and Osom may break into the mainstream to be on par with Apple, Microsoft and Android. This is a big if though.
Before that, Saga has these following problems to circumvent:
- The current Solana blockchain is not mature enough. Still known for its regular outages, Solana is not currently scalable to support a new wave of mobile DApps.
- The development of users’ habits takes time. Extensive user education and changes in behaviors are needed to ensure healthy sales of a crypto-focused smartphone.
- The ecosystem takes time to develop. Saga may launch in early 2023, but there is still a long journey ahead.
- Unless Saga can become as pervasive as Google, other blockchains have the ability to venture into the smartphone business as well and become strong competitors.
The views expressed in this article are the author's alone and do not necessarily represent the views of ApolloX.
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