Anatoly Yakovenko, co-founder of Solana, tells Decrypt all about the new SMS platform and Android phone. Solana’s teasers in the lead up to yesterday’s “SMS” event suggested that something had to do with mobile. But few could have predicted the twist that was revealed in New York City. Yes, Solana Labs is releasing a smartphone.
Solana Labs has revealed Solana Mobile Stack software kit (SMS), which includes tools to develop native Android apps, walls and games. It also offers a decentralized app shop. The Saga, an Android smartphone with powerful capabilities, was also announced by the company. It will be available in 2023.
Anatoly Yakovenko is co-founder of Solana, and CEO of Solana Labs. He told Decrypt that his team worked on the SMS push for approximately five months and the hardware for a bit more. However, the idea of improving HTML3 accessibility and functionality on mobile has been a part of his mind for many years. This is especially due to his previous experience as a Qualcomm engineer.
“What would it look like if 1 billion people used [crypto]?” What can you imagine? He held up the prototype of the Solana Saga and said that it was in this device. That must be your hardware wallet. It’s something we have always felt.”
Yakovenko stated that the idea was born when he met Jason Keats (founder and Chief Hooligan at OSOM Products). Keats was the R&D chief at Essential, which made its own Android phone. OSOM will do the same. The previously announced OSOM Ov1 will be rebranded under the Solana Saga.
It is a powerful phone. It will come with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Generation 1 processor, a 6.67 inch OLED display, 12GB RAM and 512GB internal storage. We were able to hold the phone briefly and can confirm that it feels very much like an Android premium phone from Samsung or Google.
Yakovenko stated, “It’s quite freakin’ cool device.” With a laugh, he added, “Don’t lose it.”
Android runs on more than 3 billion devices worldwide, so why create a new phone for the Solana ecosystem specifically? Yakovenko stated that the new device, which is expected to retail for $1,000, will be the benchmark for a Web3-centric smartphone and highlight the full range of capabilities offered by the Solana Mobile Stack.
He said that every developer he spoke to was interested in mobile strategy and how to reach the rest of the globe. There’s a lot friction in the App store. Devs telling me this, I start to pacing around the room trying figure out how I can help. It feels like an opportunity to create a Web3-facing App Store and Web3 device.
He stated that other Android devices could adopt the entire Solana Mobile Stack, or just parts thereof, but the Solana Saga will provide developers and users with the full experience with top-tier specs. The Saga isn’t just a second device. It’s a sturdy smartphone that offers all the Google apps and services like other Androids.
Yakovenko said, “I believe it’s important for a flagship [phone] to show that this is an integrated,” Yakovenko stated. This is the best version.
It’s unlikely that other Android devices will use Solana Mobile Stack. Because it’s open-source, Solana Labs hopes that every major manufacturer will integrate it. The crypto software is a niche and controversial thing that will require phone manufacturers to work with it.
When asked about SMS on Samsung or Google devices, he replied, “If we succeed, then I think that the dominoes in terms of cryptocurrency adoption in both those companies will start falling.”
But what about Apple’s iPhone? Apple is a firm believer in iOS, unlike Android, which can be adapted to any number of devices.
Yakovenko pointed out that Apple’s WWDC 2022 conference featured zero tools related to cryptocurrency. Mobile Wallet Adaptor can be used with any mobile or PC platform. However, Apple’s restricted ecosystem might limit the ease of Solana mobile apps running on iOS devices.
He said that these protocols could be ported to iOS, but without Apple’s help and true integration with the secure element [hardware] they use, it’s going to be really, really hard to get an Apple Pay-like experience in crypto.
It remains to be seen if Solana Labs will get Apple and other top Android manufacturers onboard with SMS, but Yakovenko said it was crucial to bring the crypto world to you.
He said, “It’s just about them deciding that cryptocurrency is important enough.” “I believe we can be very successful in enabling one billion users to have self-custody by simply changing the minds of these people.”