On Oct. 23 at the Web3 Summit event in Germany, HTC announced the launch of its Exodus 1 smartphone which will include the manufacturer’s proprietary wallet called Zion, according to CNBC.
Genesis Block. Exodus Phone.
This is official early access release to the EXODUS 1. We are inviting a community of developers and enthusiasts to work with us to keep building security. Join us in rebuilding trust together, one phone at a time. Get your early access now! pic.twitter.com/sPcNc7wnzj
— HTC EXODUS (@htcexodus) October 23, 2018
‘Genesis Block. Exodus Phone.’
HTC has reportedly been developing the phone since May 2018 with the goal of capitalizing on the growing crypto market by differentiating itself from its peers with blockchain integration.
One of the phone’s key features is that its Zion wallet allows the Exodus to function as a secure hardware wallet, running features that keep security operations separate from the rest of the Android operating system. HTC calls this secure enclave TrustZone and uses technology made by SoftBank.
HTC Decentralized Chief Officer Phil Chen, the head of the Exodus project, describes Trust Zone as a “micro OS” running beside Android, providing another layer of security for hackers to contend with should the phone become infected with malware.
The Exodus will also support social key recovery, which lets you distribute your security seed phrase of 12 to 24 words among a few trusted contacts. During setup, the phone discreetly sends bits and pieces of the seed to those contacts, and you can get that information from them to regain your data should you lose the phone.
Chen said in an interview with CNBC that Google’s OS is “fundamentally insecure” due to its centralization, which led to the development of the TrustZone enclave. Chen said the aim of providing a secure hardware wallet function for the phone was to let users directly access their digital assets without interference from a third party like Google or Facebook:
“…the reason why you do a blockchain phone is … for everybody just to own their own keys. Everything starts there. When you start owning your own keys, then you can start owning your own digital identity, then you can start to own data.”
Only Buyable With Crypto
The Zion wallet will initially support Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, and a few other ERC20 tokens, and the developers have put out a call on Twitter to recruit help in developing tighter security.
The Exodus is available for pre-order now, but only in BTC or ETH. The price in cryptocurrency equates to around $960USD, and HTC will start shipping the phones in December. Chen said regarding the decision to only sell the phone for crypto:
“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.”
Many believe this is an effort by HTC to regain some of the ground it’s lost in the mobile phone market to the likes of Apple, Google, and Huawei. Recent layoffs and a deal with Google to sell the rights to their intellectual property, as well as a VR tech launch in partnership with Steam, mark HTC’s desire to branch out into other areas of tech as well as scale back its workforce.
Chen told CNBC that blockchain would become a major part of HTC’s cell phone strategy moving forward, and reflects the company’s “increased focus on software and IP.”
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