Foxconn, major manufacturing partner of Apple, was accused last year of running a virtual slave labor factory. Perhaps in an effort to recuperate money lost from the fallout, it has now agreed to team up with Swiss startup Sirin Labs to launch a blockchain smartphone. The Android-based phone won’t come cheap, and reportedly has a starting price of almost $1,000.
The project, being developed under the code name “Finney,” is designed to offer a smartphone with a built-in cold storage cryptocurrency wallet as well as encrypted communications. The phone will come with a physical switch that allows its user to turn on a range of crypto-related services. Sirin Labs had announced the project last year, and subsequently raised more than $158 million through its initial coin offering (ICO) to turn the idea into a viable product.
Sirin has said that it has received 25,000 pre-orders for the phone and hopes to begin shipping in October. It plans on launching eight retail stores in Vietnam and Turkey, and wants to partner with mobile phone carriers in the future to compete against names like Samsung and Apple. With a $1,000 price point, luring customers away from more well-known brands will prove to be challenging. The company anticipates selling between 100,000 and “a few million” this year.
According to the company’s website, “FINNEY devices are the first cyber-protected, blockchain-enabled mobile phone and PC. They enjoy the functionality of Android OS, plus a suite of cyber security technologies, giving users safe, reliable access to the blockchain.” The devices will be part of an independent blockchain that is backed by a free security ecosystem being designed by Sirin and the Dollar Coin (DLC). Sirin is planning to introduce a whole line of computer and cell phone products that are built around blockchain technology.
Blockchain smartphones have met with some skepticism, with many accusing companies looking to produce the phones as doing nothing more than capitalizing on the hype of the blockchain technology. They argue that there is no need for blockchain phones, and that the manufacturers are taking advantage of a gullible consumer base. Time will tell if the newest tech fad is anything more than an empty shell.