HTC of Taiwan has released a mobile phone – the ‘Exodus’ – designed to handle blockchain applications, according to CNBC.

The phone is only purchasable in cryptocurrency.

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By the rivers of Babylon

Apart from being a normal Android phone, it also acts as a node on the HTC blockchain and has its own cryptocurrency wallet, which has been named ‘Zion’. According to the report, the wallet has a ‘social’ recovery option in case a phone is lost, meaning that selected contacts can vouch for the user.

HTC CEO Phil Chen told CNBC: “Think of it as a micro OS that runs in parallel with Android. It basically is a wallet, but the wallet, what it does is hold your private keys.”

Chen views his project as a way of taking power back from companies like Google, Facebook and Baidu; their dominance is a result of them owning all of their users’ data. Hence the name, this writer supposes. The Exodus keeps its blockchain functions separate from its the Android operating system. Chen said that this is because Google’s centralised system is”fundamentally insecure”.

“I want to see a world where the end consumers can truly own their data (browsing ‎history, identity, assets, wallets, emails, messaging, etc.) without the need for ‎central authorities,” said Chen in May 2018.

Cryptocurrency only

In July 2018, Litecoin creator Charlie Lee signed up as an advisor to HTC, saying that the phone will be able to support both Litecoin and the Lightning Network.

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The phone is available for pre-order for 0.15 BTC or 4.78 ETH, which is approximately $967 at current prices.

Said Chen: “Selling it in crypto only and being the first to do so means we are bringing this directly to the core audience and those who will want this device — the blockchain community.”

Exodus vs Finney

By announcing this product, HTC put itself in competition with Sirin Labs and its own blockchain phones. The latter’s current model, ‘Solarin’, retails at $14,000 and boasts military-grade security.

A Solarin user was hacked in June, according to a company announcement on its Telegram channel. Sirin Labs did not announce this on its Twitter page or release any further details.

The Israeli firm intends to release a cheaper product (retail price $1,000), the ‘Finney’, in November.

New direction

HTC, market capitalisation $872.8 million, was founded in 1997 as a laptop manufacturer, it became one of the first companies to produce touch-screen mobile phones, working primarily with Windows products.

However, it lost a lot of market share because of the dominance of Apple and Samsung in this market. In September 2017, it sold half of its workforce to Google for $1.1 billion

The Exodus phone is a new direction for the company – a focus on software and intellectual property. Chen said: “We believe blockchain is the new paradigm for smartphones and it will form part of HTC’s wider smartphone strategy.”