Finney, the blockchain phone announced at the apex of the 2018 token craze, is expected to start shipping in late December.
Unveiling its final design for the first time at an event today in Barcelona, Sirin Labs, the phone’s maker, promises to advance the user experience of decentralized apps (or dapps) with its new hardware.
The company claims to have raised over $157 million with an initial coin offering (ICO) announced early this year to fund the device’s development. Still, with so few dapps yet launched it remains to be seen if there’s an appetite for an improved user experience of the decentralized web.
Sirin wouldn’t commit to a precise date, but Nimrod May, the company’s chief marketing officer, said the firm projects that shipping will start sometime between Dec. 15 and 25. Sirin has partnered with one of the top electronics manufacturers in the world, Foxconn, to produce the devices.
The $999 phone can be pre-ordered now for holders of the sirin (SRN) token. More payment channels will go live soon, and May explained the company will always exchange whatever form of payment buyers use to sirin as it closes each sale.
There’s no relationship between SRN and the price of the phone, so those who purchased them in the token sale are at the mercy of the spot price. The token has bounced between $0.06 and $0.18 over the last three months, though trending up and occasionally spiking since last October, according to data site CoinCap.
More players have entered the market since the Finney was first proposed. In particular, long-time handset maker HTC has promised a device designed with crypto in mind. Upstart Pundi X has also entered the fray.
Sirin’s May declined to give CoinDesk a pre-order figure, but he did give a projection for sales: “I’m pretty confident that we’ll pass the 100,000 in the first year.”
As a phone designed to carry around cryptocurrency, Finney makes strong claims about its security.
May emphasized the team’s depth of experience in cybersecurity and its application of artificial intelligence to intrusion detection. The phone is also built with a modification of the Android mobile operating system, called SirinOS, which is designed with blockchain functionality in mind.
That said, the security feature that will undoubtedly get the most attention will be its cold storage wallet. As May described it to CoinDesk, this wallet is effectively a second device in the same housing as the phone.
He said it has a separate processor and users will interact with the wallet on a second LCD screen. Seed phrases will only be inserted through that screen. This can be seen in a design video released by the company.
In order to get people to use new apps in the company’s “dCenter” or decentralized app store, Sirin will make it easy for app makers to send Finney users free tokens.
“We incentivize the user by incentivizing with airdrops,” May said.
Sirin Labs has said from the start that Finney aims to make crypto easier to use.
For example, if users want to use different apps, they shouldn’t have to think about paying in the right form of crypto. Finney has been built to convert between different tokens as needed. At launch, it will only convert BTC, ETH and SRN.
When CoinDesk first reported on Finney, the firm’s plan had been to use the Bancor network to run its swapping. May says swapping will now run on Sirin’s own software.
One of the tokens running in the dapp store will be the sirin token. “The sirin token is designed as a utility token from the beginning,” May said.
Its only utility, for now, is phone pre-orders. Later, it is meant to run Finney-specific features, such as allowing phone users to sell each other bandwidth on the go. A forthcoming software development kit will allow engineers to brainstorm and advance their own peer-to-peer use cases.
Much as with Bancor, the original plan had been to power these services with the Iota protocol, as previously reported, but Sirin Labs no longer plans to do so. SRN runs on the ethereum blockchain, for now.
Finney phone image courtesy of Sirin Labs