HTC was one of the major companies in the smartphone industry, but unfortunately fell behind as years passed by. In 2017, the Taiwanese company held 2.3% of the smartphones market share, and it fell to less that half a percent in 2018. HTC may be taking a gamble to bring back its former glory by introducing the HTC Exodus 1, a blockchain phone that has ‘Brave’, a decentralized blockchain-powered browser installed by default. The browser itself is a part of the Brave/Basic Attention Project (BAT) project, which is an Ethereum token used to operate a new type of online advertising model delivered through the browser.
During the Slush conference that was held on the 4th and 5th of December 2018, Phil Chen, HTC’s Decentralized Chief Officer and Charlie Lee from Litecoin Fame talked about the new device which was announced in May 2018. The project was not only joined by Lee who had the role as a ‘consultant’, but also ‘Brave’ as tweeted by Brandon Eich, the co-founder of ‘Brave’. He tweeted in December that ‘Brave’ will be “working together with HTC on their Exodus phone”.
The smartphone is currently available for those who gained early access to it and is only purchasable with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC), Litecoin (LTC) and Ethereum (ETH). The physical design of the phone is rather unique, as it features a clear glass backplate that exposes the internal components of the phone. The transparent design is said to be a symbol of what the company wishes to showcase through the phone, which is transparency in data security.
Chan and Lee stated in the conference that privacy and data ownership is important in this time and age where major corporates control most of the online information. Chen said “four in the West, three in the East” owned a large portion of data produced by users and compared the situation to a novel written by George Orwell in 1984 which revolved around authorization control. The whole idea of creating the Exodus 1 was a measure taken to counter and limit infringement of privacy.
The Exodus 1 utilizes the Android OS for a reason, described Chen during the conference. The phone uses a new way to store crypto assets and is called a “hardware wallet”, which is said to combine the advantages of the convenient hot wallets and safe cold wallets.
Zion, which is the name of the phone’s crypto asset interface, prevents risks that show up when a wallet is connected to the internet. This is possible as Zion is said to be separated from the Android OS while being “a secure enclave within the phone”. The enclave uses its own API (Application Programming Interface) which enables it to communicate and transfer data with external components and programs such as external wallets or exchanges.
Moreover, the Exodus 1 also has an additional feature when it comes to data security called the ‘Social Key Recovery’. Aside from the basic security features almost all current smartphones possess, the ‘Social Key Recovery’ is an optional security method that allows the user to distribute five ‘keys’ to people that he or she trusts. Three of the five ‘keys’ are required for the data of the device to be retrieved in case it is broken or lost. This feature may not be mind-blowing but is certainly a bonus to the phone.
As time progresses, more companies are applying blockchain technology to their products as the popularity of the technology grows. For example, SIRIN Labs, a company which focuses on blockchain-powered electronic appliances released its first blockchain-based smartphone FINNEY. Android’s Opera browser also included a built-in crypto wallet in its private beta version when it was announced. Thus, it is not difficult to imagine a future where blockchain and crypto become a significant part of our daily lives.