Solana co-founder and CEO Anatoly Yakovenko had a Steve Jobs moment when he stood in front of an auditorium in New York City and announced the launch of Saga, an Android web3-centric smartphone.
“This is something that, fundamentally, I think the industry needs to do,” Yakovenko said. “We didn’t see a single crypto feature at the Apple developer conference 13 years after Bitcoin was alive.”
People will take out their laptops in between the dates so as not to miss an NFT minting opportunity, Yakovenko joked. “So I think it’s time for cryptocurrencies to go mobile,” Yakovenko added.
Saga aims to implement digital asset products and services, so that users can easily transact their cryptocurrency through the device, as opposed to a laptop browser.
In addition to Saga’s announcement, Yakovenko shared the release of the Solana Mobile Stack, or SMS, which is a web3 layer for Solana built into the phone.
“Web3 still feels like the year 2007,” said Steven Laver, mobile engineering lead at Solana Labs.[SMS] can create experiences for the community… will treat SMS devices as first-class citizens in Solana.”
“Everything is going mobile,” said Sam Bankman-Fried, CEO of FTX, at the event. In most countries, most access in people’s daily lives occurs through mobile phones, Bankman-Fried said. But the mobile accessibility of crypto products is not great today, he said.
SMS will consist of a number of products including a seed vault, escrow 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 create rich mobile experiences on Solana,” said a press release.
“1% of my purchases right now can be with crypto… but I would rather [paying with it]Bankman-Fried said. “Having web3 enabled devices, with a hardware wallet is super powerful.”
Several crypto companies including FTX, Phantom, Magic Eden will partner with SMS and there is also a $10 million development fund for people who build apps on it. “Builders are coming in and they’re higher quality than before,” said Raj Gokal, chief operating officer of 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 deposit and deliveries in the first quarter of 2023, Yakovenko said.
“Wow,” was the word Yakovenko kept repeating. Humorously and perhaps in awe, Yakovenko highlighted many ‘wow’ moments that the Solana ecosystem has seen in recent years, but especially in the last 12 months. Solana has more than 21 million unique active monthly accounts, according to Nansen data shared by Yakovenko.
This launch could take 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 expand the reach of the Solana ecosystem to mainstream audiences and may incline other crypto blockchains to do the same.
The announcement also comes at a difficult time for the cryptocurrency industry, which has seen a huge drop in cryptocurrency prices. Yakovenko seems to realize that the device does not have the most mainstream appeal, but sees it as something that could reach the most dedicated users of cryptocurrencies. “We target the hardcore people who know what self-custody means. You have to start with a group that loves this product and grow from there.”