If you’re looking for a new smartphone and you live in the US, you probably know the exercise. Even if you could get a great unlocked Android phone on Amazon, the possibility of it not working with your chosen carrier is quite high. That’s why most customers in the US are shopping for smartphones in a store with a mobile company, and this poses a major problem for companies like Nothing, which is on the verge of releasing its first major phone.
I’m talking about the Nothing phone (1) (opens in new tab)the first phone released from UK-based Nothing, and the second company founded by Carl Pei (formerly of OnePlus, if you lived under a rock).
In short, it is unlikely that you will find a phone in someone’s hands in the United States if that phone is not made by Apple or Samsung. OnePlus is one of the few smaller companies that has made a name for itself here and can be found on our list of best Android phones (opens in new tab), but the success of that company is the anomaly, not the norm. Even large companies like Sony have not made a dent in the market, and that is entirely to blame for the way the telecommunications companies operate here.
As Nothing prepares for its first phone launch, the hype it’s been working so hard to create was quickly emptied – at least in part – by the knowledge that it’s not officially coming. (opens in new tab) to the US Does it really make sense given the effort to go this route? The answer is a surprisingly clear “yes”, but it does not come without reservations. Let’s explore.
Telecommunications companies (telecommunications companies) in the United States have been denounced for many reasons over the years; many of these reasons are probably true and have not changed in a long time. Although they often tell customers about the hard work it takes to build a network in such a geographically diverse (and large) country, the thing is, they could do much better with the smartphones themselves. As Carl Pei told me in an interview earlier this week, “airlines hold the keys to the kingdom” and do not often give them away to usurpers trying to overthrow the status quo.
As it was described to me, telephone companies set up a timeline of releases they want to see for a given calendar year, complete with specifications and prices that are thought to be appropriate for an operator’s customer base. These slots are then auctioned off and the smaller companies that cannot compete with larger companies for volume prices often lose. The only corporations that bow back for are Apple, but that’s a different story for another article.
Given that the phone (1) is Notting’s first smartphone, according to Pei, it is not financially possible to try to fight for these places. Based on the information we know about his years at OnePlus and the difficulties that OnePlus faced in trying to enter the market as an unlocked supplier, it is clear that the only financially viable option would be to go the carrier route, when there were sufficient resources available to do so. possible.
If you’ve been following the smartphone game for any number of years, this is a story you’ve heard a thousand times. Jitesh Ubrani, IDC’s head of research for worldwide device tracking, confirms the difficulties, saying “the US smartphone market is heavily controlled by telecommunications companies and smaller brands simply cannot afford the various certifications, marketing crowns and other contractual requirements that are in place for telecommunications companies.”
Selling on Amazon as your own brand is always an option – and can be quite lucrative in many product categories – but US customers have become so used to hearing “this phone is not compatible with your chosen carrier” that most of them just buy what’s in the Verizon, AT&T or T-Mobile store and move on to the next thing in life.
Ubrani adds that “selling phones in the open market through smaller retailers or e-retailers like Amazon is possible, but the quantities are low and ultimately not worth the hassle for smaller phone markers.”
Surely does not leave much room for … anything, really.
No smartphone company is openly discussing future product release cycles when a release is near the horizon, so it is not clear if the Nothing phone (2) could reach a US mobile company and see some actual domestic successes in this country. However, given that Pei has direct experience with this exact process, there is little doubt that Nothing will attempt this move as soon as possible.
Ubrani backs this thought and tells me: “Carl Pei is probably intimately aware of these obstacles, as OnePlus faced the same problems many years ago when they sold phones on the US open market, although volumes were very limited. , and they did not. get any real traction until they logged on with a carrier. “
Nothing in PCMag’s statement also repeats these sentiments. “Although we would love to bring phone (1) to the whole community around the world, we focus on the domestic markets, including the UK and Europe, where we have strong partnerships with leading local mobile companies. It takes a lot to launch a smartphone, as you know , from ensuring that the handset is supported by the country’s cellular technologies to operator partnerships and local regulation, and as we are still a young brand, we need to be strategic about it. “
So why bother marketing the phone in the US at all if it will not be released here in any real capacity?
The recent exclusive MKBHD hands-on (opens in new tab) proves that Pei and the company have what it takes to build hype – even in a market where its products will not be readily available – but will hype from a US-based tech YouTube really make an impact in international markets? Wouldn’t it make more sense to put the phone in the hands of someone like Geekyranjit (opens in new tab)operating a 3+ million subscriber channel in India, one of the key markets Nothing will be launched on?
Or what about Mrwhosetheboss (opens in new tab) (Arun Maini), who is without a doubt the biggest technical YouTuber in Notting’s home country, UK? Without in-depth knowledge of the audience placement for each of these channels – and which ones serve the markets Nothing’s first customers live in – there is no way to say it right.
But it probably does not matter anyway, and here’s why.
MKBHD hands-on was announced exactly three weeks before the official release of Nothing Phone (1) – it’s July 12th if you’re looking to buy one – and will almost certainly begin a long marketing campaign from the grassroots and up which will take place over the next few weeks. This ensures that Nothing will have its name in the headlines in the coming weeks, further building up hype even in a country where the phone is likely to be available for import only.
After all, there’s a reason we’ve only seen bits and pieces of the phone so far. We first got a glimpse of the unique lights on the back of the phone earlier this year (opens in new tab) – even though at the time we had no idea what the strange-looking pattern meant at all – followed a few months later by an interview (opens in new tab) on the design of the phone.
Recently, we saw a short tease of the phone corners (opens in new tab) followed by a full unveiling of the phone back the next day (opens in new tab) and of course the back of the phone in action from Marques himself.
All of this is completely deliberate and it is being used to build Nothing up from “nothing” to a brand that can compete with the endless list of names out there. As we have seen from brands like Xiaomi (opens in new tab), a US presence is irrelevant if you can attract other key markets. You’d better believe that nothing puts its hope in markets that are less solid than the US, and if it gets the right price, it can certainly win big.