Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, died in 2011, taking a little part of the computer sector with him. Although his successor Tim Cook has undoubtedly increased the company’s profitability, those days when Apple’s innovative spirit might occasionally turn popular culture on its axis are long gone. Everything has been a little boring ever since. not the least in terms of phones.
Apple has continued to make incremental changes to the iPhone, but the introduction of a new model, like the iPhone 14, no longer causes as much excitement as it previously did. And while there are several good Android competitors on the market (see our guide to the best camera phones for your alternatives), none have really broken the mould in terms of design, instead choosing to mainly copy the best of the iPhone, just at a cheaper price.
But all of a sudden, Nothing, a relatively young corporation, is changing everything.
What is Nothing?
Carl Pei, a Swedish businessman and co-founder of the Chinese electronics behemoth OnePlus, established the London-based technology company Nothing in 2020. It has drawn several well-known investors, including YouTuber Casey Neistat, Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman, and iPod inventor Tony Fadell.
Nothing’s mission statement is: “No confusing tech-speak. No silly product names. Just artistry, passion and trust. And products we’re proud to share with our friends and family. Simple. Because beautiful tech shouldn’t be complicated.”
It released its first item, a pair of wireless earbuds called ear (1), last July to put skin on those bare bones. The earphones’ real audio quality received mixed reviews despite their $99 price tag. But everyone concurred that their unconventional, translucent design was a masterpiece. Success in sales followed, with the business making 100,000 in sales in just the first two months.
But compared to what is about to happen, that might be nothing.
Dawn of the Nothing Phone
Nothing announced in March that its first smartphone, Phone (1), would be released soon. Then, on June 24, the device was made available for pre-order after a lot of buzz and anticipation.
Similar to the earbuds, Phone (1) has a translucent appearance that really sets it apart from the competition. It hasn’t stopped a tonne of people from signing up for pre-orders, which call for a non-refundable payment of £20 despite the fact that we don’t know anything about what’s inside.
For the time being, only Europe, China, and the UK will have access to the Nothing Phone; North America will not. Even still, more than 100,000 pre-orders had been placed in just two days. It is currently 174,020 and growing as of the time of writing.
When the official launch occurs on July 12 at 8 a.m. PT, 11 a.m. ET, and 4 p.m. BST via an online event that is likely to rival Steve Jobs’ heyday of global hype, we’ll find out a lot more. The internet is ablaze with rumours and purported leaks about what the phone’s specifications will be in the interim. However, in our opinion, that kind of misses the point.
Why Apple should worry
When was the last time someone could claim that? What Nothing has done is stoked anticipation for the release of a new phone.
And most people are not really thrilled by unimportant details like the camera’s megapixel count or the processor’s number of cores. It has to do with the fact that Nothing is reinventing how a phone feels and looks, something that very few businesses have even attempted in the past ten years.
Apple has continued to raise the price of its high-end phones in the interim, confident in the fact that for many young people, the iPhone is a fashion accessory rather than a necessary piece of technology (and not simply about creating the finest iPhone for photography). And over the past ten years, that fashion status has remained mostly uncontested.
That’s not all, either. Nothing’s mission statement is filled with the kind of enthusiasm that Steve Jobs was known for and used to motivate others in a computer industry that has increasingly become about dry data. “You can feel something is wrong with tech,” they insist, and urge you to: “Undo. Unfollow. And unlearn everything the industry has taught you. It changes now. With Phone (1).”
Of course, it is still uncertain if it will. We might soon stop thinking about the phone if it turns out to be a bust.
However, what matters is that Nothing has paved the way for a new era in which phone manufacturers compete with Apple on a level playing field in terms of aesthetic design, marketing hoopla, and unbridled enthusiasm. It also gets challenging to put the genie back in the box once it has been let out.