“Blockchain” Phone and Opera Expands into Cryptocurrency Tools

"Blockchain" Phone


Late last year, Sirin Labs announced, the Finney. The Finney would be the world's first blockchain phone. Sirin's ICO raised over $150MM. CNET wrote:

Sirin Labs, the company that two years ago launched the ultra-secure, ultra-expensive ($14,800) Solarin smartphone, has now finalised the design and specification of its next offering. FINNEY looks very similar to Solarin, but costs nearly 15 times less ($999) and features a secondary slide-out touch screen that provides a window on an embedded cold storage crypto wallet. It's this, plus extra functionality provided by Sirin OS -- a security-hardened fork of Android 8.1 -- that underlies Sirin Labs' claim that FINNEY is the "first-ever blockchain smartphone".

Why would I want to carry cryptocurrency on my phone? If a thief knew that I had a Finney, they could threaten me to give up my private key/password and steal my cryptocurrency. Are people going to shell out $1,000 so they can have "blockchain" on their phone? I would wager that the average phone user could care less if blockchain was a feature on their phone. It's unclear how the phone even uses blockchain. A blockchain, at its core, is just a list of records, but what records is the phone keeping? Is it recording my calls, my texts or what applications I use? Who has access to this blockchain? 

The CMO of Sirin Labs wrote this about Finney:

We were wondering what prevents crypto-currencies from hitting the mass market, and we identified two main problems," Nimrod May, chief marketing officer at Sirin Labs, told ZDNet. "One is around security: for the first time in history, users need to take care of their own assets, without the ability to approach a central organisation like a bank. The other main problem with blockchain is the user experience: we [crypto enthusiasts] manage to obtain our cryptos, we know where to trade them, we understand the technology behind it -- but it's still something that's considered complicated for the average user."

Cryptocurrencies aren't meant to be traded. They are intended to be used. When someone buys Bitcoin, in theory, it's meant to be used for payments or a store of value. Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency will lose its value in the long run if its only use case is speculation. Secondly, are we suddenly going to trust Sirin Labs with our cryptocurrency? Sirin isn't solving the trust problem even if the CMO thinks it is. How do we know someone isn't putting in malware during the supply chain process? 

My favorite part of the CNET article:

To fund FINNEY, Sirin Labs held an ICO based on its SRN token, raising a total of $158 million by the end of the sale on 26 December 2017. What kinds of people invested? "It's a mixture between institutionals and big crypto investors -- about two-thirds in our case -- and crowdsale," said May. And who is the phone for? "When you deep-dive and try to understand who is the ideal customer, they are millennials," replied May.

If the sole way to purchase Finney is through the Sirin token then why would you be bragging about institutional and big cryptocurrency investors buying it? Does the company not want wide distribution? Institutional investors are buying it to speculate. The token's limited distribution doesn't help Sirin Labs sell the phone or grow the token. I love how he added Millennials in there. He needed to fill his buzzword quota.

This phone is nothing more than a gimmick for Sirin Labs. They took advantage of a hyped-up ICO market to raise a lot of money. At the moment, a blockchain phone makes no sense. Blockchains are used to create trust. I admit that I don't trust Apple, but I don't Sirin Labs either. Sirin Labs control the "blockchain" on the phone. There is no guarantee that they aren't using your data either. Maybe, Lionel Messi will convince me to buy the phone. 


Opera Expands Cryptocurrency Tools 


When I was younger, I used to use my mom's Macintosh computer. I was not too fond of the Safari browser. I discovered Opera and became a big fan. Once, Chrome came out, I started using that and haven't looked back. I'm glad to see Opera is now expanding into cryptocurrency and maybe it'll give me an excuse to switch back. Opera's crypto wallet will only exist on Android to start. This marks the first time a browser has ventured into web 3.0. As I wrote above, I still think mobile cryptocurrency wallets are a bad idea especially if you are holding a significant amount of cryptocurrency on it. It would be the same as carrying a lot of cash in your wallet. A person can physically threaten you and take your cryptocurrency. This attack is called the $5 wrench attack:

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I should be clear; technically Opera is focusing on the Ethereum blockchain to start. If you want to hold Bitcoin or Litecoin in your Opera wallet, it's a no go. Opera recently received a significant round of funding from Bitmain and plans to go public shortly. Public market investors have minimal options for investing in a "blockchain play," and Opera could be using this momentum to make it a more attractive IPO. For cryptocurrency/blockchain to grow, we need non-blockchain companies to build in the space. 


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