First Mover Asia: Solana’s Anatoly Yakovenko Thinks His Phone Is the Tool for a Mobile Web3 Experience

The Solana protocol faces a massive challenge in convincing people to use its phone to do things they can do with existing phones.

AccessTimeIconOct 20, 2022 at 11:58 p.m. UTC
Updated Nov 14, 2022 at 7:27 p.m. UTC

Bradley Keoun is the managing editor of CoinDesk's Markets team. He owns less than $1,000 each of several cryptocurrencies.

Good morning. Here’s what’s happening:

Prices: Bitcoin was so flat that crypto analysts had little to discuss besides the largest cryptocurrency's ultra-low volatility.

Insights: Solana faces a major challenge in convincing people to use its mobile phone.

Catch the latest episodes of CoinDesk TV for insightful interviews with crypto industry leaders and analysis. And sign up for First Mover, our daily newsletter putting the latest moves in crypto markets in context.

Prices

CoinDesk Market Index (CMI): 925.95 −0.7%

Bitcoin (BTC): $19,043 −0.4%

Ether (ETH): $1,283 −0.0%

S&P 500 daily close: 3,665.78 −0.8%

Gold: $1,630 per troy ounce +0.2%

Ten-year Treasury yield daily close: 4.23% +0.1


Bitcoin, ether and gold prices are taken at approximately 4pm New York time. Bitcoin is the CoinDesk Bitcoin Price Index (XBX); Ether is the CoinDesk Ether Price Index (ETX); Gold is the COMEX spot price. Information about CoinDesk Indices can be found at coindesk.com/indices.

Bitcoin (BTC) was holding steady around $19,000 – and analysts were remarking on just how much the notoriously volatile cryptocurrency's price has settled down. At least one technical indicator suggest that bitcoin might be undervalued, but the macroeconomic environment is still so sketchy that investors might not want to hop in just yet.

It's probably not a good sign that an asset considered one of the world's safest - the U.S. Treasury bond – is suddenly looking shaky. The yield on the benchmark 10-year bond rose to 4.2%, a level not seen since 2008. Liquidity for the triple-A-rated government bonds has "deteriorated amidst weak demand and investor risk aversion," Bank of America analysts warned in a research report. "The U.S. Treasury market is fragile and vulnerable to shock."

Axie Infinity, the "play-to-earn" crypto gaming platform that's already a big loser in digital-asset markets this year, faces additional selling pressure as a big "unlock" looms for millions of the native AXS tokens. The concern is that early investors who have been restricted from selling because of vesting periods might now choose to dump the token.

Here are the biggest gainers and losers in the CoinDesk Market Index:

Biggest Gainers

Asset Ticker Returns DACS Sector
Chain XCN +10.17% Currency
Lido DAO LDO +6.52% DeFi
Ravencoin RVN +5.83% Currency

Biggest Losers

Asset Ticker Returns DACS Sector
Uniswap UNI -8.5% DeFi
SushiSwap SUSHI -8.33% DeFi
Injective INJ -7.37% DeFi

Insights

Solana's Phone Challenge

By Sam Reynolds

Do you really need a phone from Solana to experience a mobile version of web3? Anatoly Yakovenko seems to think so.

In June Solana announced that it is launching a Web3 phone, called the “Saga.” Yesterday at the TechCrunch Disrupt summit, Yakovenko was calling this an “opportunity” against Google and Apple, and a way for developers to bypass the “tax” these companies put on the sales via the app store.

“They’re built around a rent-seeking model where all the content is owned by the creator and you as a user rent it. When you buy a video from Amazon, you don’t actually own it; everyone realizes that you don’t own it,” TechCrunch quotes Yakovenko as saying. “I don’t know what’s going to have to change internally for them to give up the 30% tax on apps.”

Yakovenko’s solution is the Saga, which comes loaded with the Solana Mobile Stack (SMS) software development kit for Web3.

The SMS is, according to Solana, a “framework for Android allowing developers to create rich mobile experiences for wallets and apps on Solana.”

The operative word here is Android, the operating system that powers around 70% of the mobile phones in existence. Anything that Solana develops you could simply install on your existing Android phone, too.

The Saga phone isn’t all that proprietary in the first place. Solana didn’t specifically develop it; rather, it has contracted Osom, made up of former smartphone engineers from Google and another boutique smartphone maker called Essential, to rebrand one of their phones and call it the Saga. In turn, Osom used an original design manufacturer – which builds white-label phones and allows others to brand them – to manufacture the handset. This practice isn’t controversial but is is common as only a handful of companies have the capability to mass produce a smartphone.

In some ways, the failed blockchain phones of yesteryear were more proprietary than Solana’s Saga. HTC’s crypto-themed Exodus 1 phone allowed users to store their private crypto keys in a walled garden of the phone’s processor, called the Trust Zone, which is where other encryption keys and biometric data are stored. Samsung also does this now via its Knox encryption app and made it first available on the Galaxy S10 in 2019. HTC’s Exodus has faded into obscurity, and no market data is available on how many people use the Galaxy’s Knox function.

So for Solana, it's going to be a major challenge to convince people to buy its phone to do things you can already do on existing phones. There are already alternative app stores that don’t have the “30% tax” Yakovenko complains about – but they don’t have the library of apps.

Maybe the market for the phone is not builders and power users but rather those who want to be a part of the tribe, showing off their status symbol of inclusion.

Important events

8:00 a.m. HKT/SGT(12:00 a.m. UTC) EU Leaders Summit

10:00 p.m. HKT/SGT(2:00 p.m. UTC) European Commission's Consumer Confidence

CoinDesk TV

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Headlines

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Binance Denies Allegations That It Intends to Use Users' Uniswap Tokens for Voting: The exchange denied using users’ token holding to vote on Uniswap governance.

Finance Can Never Be Fully Decentralized, Says UK Central Banker: Carolyn Wilkins, advising the Bank of England on financial stability, cited issues of transparency, concentration and unpredictable events.

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CoinDesk - Unknown

Bradley Keoun is the managing editor of CoinDesk's Markets team. He owns less than $1,000 each of several cryptocurrencies.

CoinDesk - Unknown

Bradley Keoun is the managing editor of CoinDesk's Markets team. He owns less than $1,000 each of several cryptocurrencies.