A smartphone startup created by the founder of OnePlus is promising to take the fight to Apple but is still keeping its cards close to its chest.
The name of the company is Nothing, which seems to be representative of a cryptic, nebulous approach to marketing. So much so that we had never heard of it before, but it seems to have been around for at least a couple of years. Nothing had a round of crowdfunding community investing in March 2020, which hit its target of $1.5 million immediately. It has also received $140 million from various investment groups.
What all these people thought they were investing in is unclear, since there has only been one product launch so far – some ear buds six months ago – but the main cash magnet seems to have been its founder, Carl Pei (pictured). Pei was also the co-founder of the OnePlus smartphone brand, which has done pretty well. You can tell from his photo that he doesn’t lack self-confidence, so that seems to be enough for people to chuck money at him when he says he has a cunning plan.
Pei articulated that plan a bit more at a recent event in London, the video recording of which you can see below, with his first appearance at the ten-minute mark. “We’re building the most compelling alternative to Apple,” said Pei, setting the tone for a level of hyperbole and marketing-speak that would have made Steve Jobs proud.
“History has chosen us,” Insisted Pei, in reference to the boring smartphone sector, in which the form factor matured over a decade ago and which has largely just served up incremental component upgrades ever since. Nothing intends to change that, somehow, while still offering an Android-based phone that will presumably be the standard rectangular touchscreen format. There is something called Nothing OS, but that seems to be a glorified Android skin, described by Pei as “the best of Android combined with our iconic design language.”
Iconic? It doesn’t even exist in the wild yet so how can it already be iconic? As you can see from the video, hype is all the appropriately named company has to offer for now. That’s fine, so long as the product lives up to it, but that seems unlikely. Qualcomm seems to be its primary hardware partner, so we’re going to get a Snapdragon-powered Android smartphone with fancy UI. What’s so disruptive about that?
When it does arrive it will be called ‘phone (1)’, which is a bit of an annoying name, further increasing the pressure on it to blow people away. While we welcome attempts at innovation and the smartphone market certainly needs it, we saw nothing from this latest teaser campaign to make us believe the phone (1) will be as disruptive as Pei claims. Of course, we will be delighted to be proved wrong and will find out one way or the other by September, it seems.
You’ve speculated, and now you know.
Nothing phone (1) is officially coming.
It’s unlike anything else.
Sign up for the latest updates on https://t.co/pLWW07l8G7. pic.twitter.com/Lo4UPkk7MT
— Nothing (@nothing) March 23, 2022