Polygon partners with Nothing, making a bet on Web3 phones

    07 Jul 2022

    Ethereum scaling solution Polygon has partnered with phone maker Nothing to bring Web3 tech to mobile users. The upcoming Nothing Phone (1) will integrate Polygon’s tech for easier mobile access to dApps, games, payments, and more.

    While Solana recently announced its Solana Mobile Stack (SMS) software initiative and Saga phone, Polygon revealed Wednesday its own mobile development. Polygon, an Ethereum scaling platform, announced a collaboration with tech startup Nothing that will see Polygon’s tech integrated into the company’s first smartphone, the Nothing Phone (1).

    At first, the partnership will be an NFT membership club, with Polygon NFTs provided to people who helped crowdfund Nothing’s launch. Nothing’s Black Dot NFTs, as they’re called, provide potential benefits to holders, such as early access to products or entries to events.

    Eventually, the plan is to infuse the Android-based Nothing Phone (1) with easy access to apps and games on Polygon’s platform, as well as payments and future features like Polygon ID, the company’s zero-knowledge, proof-based identification solution.

    “How do we get even closer to the user? The largest distribution platform in the world is the mobile phone,” Polygon Vice President of Growth Arjun Kalsy told Decrypt. “Basically, the timing was right that now we can take this technology to the masses.”

    In Kalsy’s words, Polygon was introduced to Nothing by one of its VC backers after its $450 million fund raise last February. He shared that the Nothing team surprised him with its depth of knowledge about Web3 and robust plans for the space.

    “Right from the first conversation, I was like: ‘Well, these guys get it,’” Kalsy said. “They understand how Web3 works, and that for me was a magic moment. Like, I want to work with these guys.”

    Polygon and Nothing have spent the last four to five months developing the collaboration, crystalizing concepts like how they want users to be able to tap into Polygon decentralized apps (dApps) and games on mobile and how the project could evolve.

    “If you look at any Android or Apple phone, you log in with either a Google ID or an Apple ID, and to an extent, Apple or Google owns the customer, right? That is where the value comes from,” said Kalsy. “In a decentralized world, we need to help the user take back control.”

    The key difference is that Solana is making its own smartphone in partnership with OSOM Products, a startup from former Essential Phone R&D head, Jason Keats. Nothing’s phone will feature Polygon technology, but it’s not a “Polygon Phone” in the way that the Solana Saga is a Solana-branded device.

    According to Kalsy, Polygon preferred to partner with a firm that specializes in building phones and let each firm in the alliance focus on its own specialty. He said it was also a matter of not “trying to boil the ocean”—in other words, to avoid letting the scope of the project grow out of control and perhaps beyond their own resources to execute.

    “I believe it’s one of the single most important things which networks can do,” Kalsy claimed. “You’ve solved for scalability and such, and now you can take this technology to the mobile phone and start onboarding the next hundreds of millions of users into Web3.”

    Because Polygon is a decentralized blockchain platform, this isn’t an exclusive alliance. Other firms can integrate Polygon support into their devices, as HTC will with its recently announced Desire 22 Pro “metaverse phone,” which also supports Ethereum.

    Meanwhile, the Nothing partnership benefits from the Polygon team’s knowledge and experience, Kalsy said. Similar to Solana, Polygon sees the mobile market as the key to onboarding potentially vast numbers of future users into the crypto world.

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