It there’s one thing Nothing’s first phone excelled at, it was bringing a bit of excitement to the staid world of smartphones. Shipments have been stagnating, slowing and contracting for the past several years, and are now at some of their lowest numbers in roughly a decade.
The Phone (1) wasn’t a revolution, but it was certainly a breath of fresh air, after dealing with incremental upgrades from the same core players. Potential U.S. consumers were, however, out of luck — at least until the London-based company opened things a bit through a recent beta program.
Wider availability for the device may never come here in the States, but its sequel has the world’s No. 3 market firmly in its sights. The carrier-controlled U.S. market has been a notoriously difficult one to break into — but it’s an important one, if only for its sheer size. In a recent interview, founder Carl Pei noted that the country will be a prime target for the Nothing Phone (2) when it launches toward year’s end.
The company has little else to reveal about the forthcoming handset at the moment, but the executive noted that Nothing’s earbuds served as a kind of trial balloon for potential stateside expansion.
“We’re really excited about the U.S. market because it’s a big country,” he explained. “If you look at our earbuds sales, about one-third comes from the U.S. And by not launching our phone in the U.S., we’re leaving potentially a third of the volume on the table.”
Nothing confirmed that it is planning a non-beta U.S. release for its forthcoming handset. “The U.S. is a major priority for 2023,” Pei told TechCrunch. “We’ve assembled a team that I’m confident can deliver a fast and smooth OS experience currently missing in today’s smartphone industry. With the launch of our next flagship device later this year, I anticipate Nothing will not only fill in the gaps of what’s missing, but offer consumers real choice in a sea of sameness.”
The broader question is whether the lull in the market will serve as a net positive or negative for Nothing’s ambitions. The slowdown may have created openings in a long-saturated category, but it remains to be seen whether the slowdown is temporary, or the beginning, or if consumers are done buying phones at their former rate. Economic factors ebb and flow, but even prior to the current climate, things were looking listless for smartphone manufacturers.
Hoping to continue the conversation later this month at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.