If any smartphone users out there have spent a lot of time thinking: “This device is great, but I’d love a blockchain one,” then that wish is to be fulfilled at last.
The uninitiated may simply wonder what a blockchain is and what jewellers shop they can be bought from, but all may be about to become a lot clearer thanks to a collaboration between Swiss consumer electronics company Sirin Labs and Foxconn International Holding (FIH) Mobile, a subsidiary of electronics maker Foxconn.
Between them, they will develop Sirin Labs’ Finney blockchain-based smartphone.
Moshe Hogeg, the joint chief executive of Sirin Labs, said: “Bringing the first blockchain-based smartphone to market obligates us to partner with the very best in the market.
“FIH Mobile – the gold-standard in smartphone manufacturing – was ultimately the clear and natural partner for us.”
There is a reason this is a big deal: Blockchains are robust structures of data that are very hard to alter as it is secured by cryptographic means; each block is linked by hash pointer to the next one in the chain, so anyone trying to hack into it would have to control the majority of the system to successfully breach security.
While this could have all manner of business uses in due course, it is already at the heart of one of the most disruptive technological developments in recent years, the rise of cryptocurrencies.
These are perfectly suited to the technology and, therefore, it may be safely assumed that those trading in Bitcoin, Ripple, Etherium or other cryptocurrencies will be using blockchain-based phones to carry out trades and maybe even mining.
Many people are sceptical about cryptocurrencies, preferring to deal in the real thing instead. But that caution may gradually dissipate, not least because, according to the Bloomberg news agency, the billionaire investor George Soros appears to have changed his tune about them.
Having described cryptocurrencies as a “typical bubble” as recently as January, Mr Soros is now reportedly set to invest in them via his Soros Fund Management vehicle. Not only may that lend them greater credibility; it could be that he ends up using Sirin’s new device to trade them.