London-based consumer tech company Nothing tomorrow will launch its first smartphone, the phone (1). For many people, this will be the first time that they have been made aware of the company.
It’s not often that a new player in the smartphone game can try and compete with the likes of Apple and Samsung, but Nothing believes it has what it takes. In anticipation of the launch, UKTN has looked at how the company came from nothing to something.
Nothing was founded by OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei in 2020 after leaving the company, going on to raise $7m in seed investment from the likes of Tony Fadell, Casey Neistat, Kevin Lin, Steve Huffman, and Josh Buckley.
Nothing gets Google onboard
This was then followed by a $15m investment by GV (previously Google Ventures) the venture capital division of Google’s parent company Alphabet in Nothing’s Series A, with plans to use the funds to launch its first device.
It was an interesting move by the tech giant, which already makes its own brand of Pixel phones.
In March last year, the company held its first community crowdfunding round, where it managed to raise £1m in just 54 seconds for its first hardware product, wireless earphones.
These see-through earphones were launched a few months later in July with the name ear (1). The first 100 units sold on the online marketplace StockX.
When buying the earphones through its website, the customer is given the option to pay in a variety of cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, USD Coin, and Dogecoin.
Later in October, Nothing raised a further $50m and announced its partnership with Qualcomm Technologies.
The company then brought onboard Adam Bates, former Dyson head of design and product experience as its design director.
Nothing raised $70m (£53.5m) in its Series B funding round, which was led by EQT Ventures and C Ventures in March this year, bringing the total funding to $144m (£110m).
It then began teasing the design of the phone (1) in March, with the rather cryptic image below.
Then in June the company unveiled the design of its phone (1), revealing that it would have a see-through back and areas that light up for notifications in the shape of the previous picture.
Dubbed the Glyph Interface, the lights can be used to signal notifications, calls and charging.
Like the ear (1), Nothing also said that it will auction the first 100 phone (1)s through StockX. Just like the original OnePlus, phone (1) is available through an invite-only system.
But will Nothing be able to compete with existing players dominating the mobile space such as Apple and Samsung?
The two tech giants, along with Google, have dominated the smartphone market for much of the last decade. It won’t be easy for Nothing to challenge their hegemony. But Carl Pei has done it before with OnePlus, so there is no reason why he couldn’t do it again.
Other British smartphone companies include phone manufacturer Vertu, WileyFox (which went into administration) and rugged phone maker Bullitt Group.
UKTN will be covering Nothing’s phone (1) launch event tomorrow in London.