Solana co-founder and CEO Anatoly Yakovenko had a Steve Jobs moment when he stood outside an auditorium in New York and announced the launch of Saga, a web3-focused Android smartphone.
“It’s something that I fundamentally believe the industry needs to do,” Yakovenko said. “We haven’t seen a single crypto feature at the Apple Developer Conference 13 years after Bitcoin was created.”
People will pull out their laptops in the middle of appointments so they don’t miss an NFT typing opportunity, Yakovenko joked. “So I think it’s time for crypto to go mobile,” Yakovenko added.
Saga aims to implement digital asset products and services, so that users can easily transact with their cryptocurrency through the device, as opposed to a laptop browser.
Along with the Saga announcement, Yakovenko shared the launch of Solana Mobile Stack, or SMS, which is a web3 layer for Solana built on the phone.
“Web3 still feels like it’s 2007,” said Steven Laver, mobile engineering manager at Solana Labs. “[SMS] can create experiences for the community… it will treat SMS devices as first-class citizens on Solana.
“Everything is going mobile,” FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried said at the event. In most countries, most access in people’s daily lives is through cellphones, Bankman-Fried said. But the mobile accessibility of crypto products isn’t great today, he said.
SMS will consist of a number of products including a seed vault, custodial solution, mobile wallet adapter, Solana Pay for Android and its decentralized application (dApp) store. It “provides a new set of libraries for wallets and apps, enabling developers to build rich mobile experiences on Solana,” a press release reads.
“1% of my purchases right now can be with crypto…but I would much rather [paying with it]said Bankman-Fried. “Having Web3 compatible devices, with a hardware wallet, is super powerful.”
A number of crypto companies including FTX, Phantom, Magic Eden will partner with SMS and there is also a $10 million development fund for people building apps on it. “Builders are coming in and they’re higher quality than before,” said Raj Gokal, COO at Solana Labs. “They’re ready for the next stage of user growth.”
The $1,000 device will have 512GB of storage with a 6.67-inch OLED display and is available for pre-order with a $100 down payment and shipments will occur in the first quarter of 2023, Yakovenko said.
“Wow,” was the word Yakovenko kept repeating. Humorously and perhaps – impressively – Yakovenko pointed to many “wow” moments the Solana ecosystem has had over the past few years, but especially over the past 12 months. Solana has more than 21 million unique active monthly accounts, according to Nansen data shared by Yakovenko.
This launch could bring Solana into the big tech leagues, moving from a crypto-centric world to one alongside Apple and Microsoft, and of course Android. The focus on bringing more Web3 options to mobile devices may also extend the reach of the Solana ecosystem to the general public and may incline other crypto blockchains to do the same.
The announcement also comes at a difficult time for the crypto industry which has seen a major drop in crypto prices. Yakovenko seems to realize that the device doesn’t have the most mainstream appeal, but sees it as something that could reach the most dedicated crypto users. “We target hardcore people who know what self-care means. You need to start with a group that loves this product and grow from there.