Nothing today held a press event where the company took a breath of fresh air in the weary and stale smartphone market. At least, that’s what you would get from the startup’s presentation. In fact, the company did little more than break out of tired old iPhone-killer tropes that had little substance to show for it.
In a pre-recorded presentation, founder Carl Pei explained how smartphones required a wake-up call, and there was no one to do so. He talked about how it will be the best of Android, how it plans to integrate with your favorite services, how it will work with Qualcomm. In other words, yet another Android phone with the pipe dream of taking on Apple’s vertically integrated ecosystem hasn’t been announced.
Don’t get me wrong, Nothing Year 1 reviews leave no doubt that nothing can excel when it comes to hardware, and Pei’s past products show that she helped direct a small boutique brand. Can do. But it takes much more than Apple is willing to bring it into existence. Look at Microsoft, Google and Samsung for example. Everyone has tried to take on Apple with more capital, wider established bases, and a ready ecosystem — and no one has been able to replicate that.
Meanwhile, Samsung has learned that the A-series is where its luck lies and where it should be focusing all its attention.
You can point to Samsung as a brand that is distinctly successful, but Apple controls the premium market. Meanwhile, Samsung has learned that the A-series is where its luck lies and where it should be focusing all its attention. The more, the better the philosophy appears to be as it debuted the A53 and A33 last week. The closest analog to what Google isn’t trying to do among the big tech companies is with its Pixel, Pixelbooks, and Pixel Slates. While all are good products, they have done nothing to shake up the market. As proof, we can see that phones continue to dominate the Android market in 2022, which still takes cues from Apple’s iOS, even with “stock” Android more iOS-like than ever. It is done.
To be clear, it’s not like it didn’t do anything particularly bad. The company has been very imaginative in its designs – the Nothing Year 1 looks very inspired. But let’s talk about what did nothing. It didn’t debut any modular platform like Motorola’s Z-series or LG’s G5. It didn’t talk about how its cameras would outpace the competition, like those of Huawei. It doesn’t offer a new chip like Tensor or a powerful chip like the Apple A15. It is not foldable like Z Fold 3 or Z Flip 3. It’s also not using a unique operating system like Apple’s iOS. What Android isn’t telling you is the same Android you can get on Pixel or Motorola or Nokia phones right now. When nothing launches its app next month, that’s literally what will happen. So what’s really nothing unique about the Phone 1?
Here’s an answer: nothing.
Nothing beats the double burden of being a startup Android brand that promises to revolutionize the industry. Remember Nextbit Robin? phone required?
The smartphone market may need to shake up, it may not. If it does, is making the r/Android subreddit’s dream phone the best way to do it? The presentation took issue with the smartphone market for being iterative but not creative. What would we call the umpteenth showcase of phones with “smooth, clean Android, three years of OS updates, four years of security updates” if not an iteration? Hey, it works with Teslas and AirPods, just in case you’re confused as to who this phone is targeting.
The smartphone market is mature, not necessarily boring. It’s a lot like laptops or cars. There is room for something new, but the change will be gradual and iterative until you look back after a few years and realize how far it has come. But it’s a little disappointing that nothing to revive the smartphone ecosystem was planned on a weary trope and a weary Android fanboy wish list. What a Nothingburger.