Nothing Plans to Launch Smartphone in US to Take on Apple's iPhone
UK-based tech company Nothing plans to launch a smartphone in the US to directly compete with Apple's iPhone, according to a new report out today.
In an interview with CNBC, Nothing CEO Carl Pei said the startup is in "early conversations" with American cellular carriers about launching a new phone in the US, but he stopped short of naming any of the carriers or the phone model.
Nothing in July launched its Phone 1 smartphone in over 40 markets, including the UK, Japan, India, and countries in mainland Europe. At the time, the company said it had no plans for a widespread release of the Phone 1 in the US.
"The reason why we didn't launch in the US is because you need a lot of additional technical support, to support all the carriers and their unique customizations that they need to make on top of Android," Pei explained in an interview with CNBC. "We felt that we weren't ready before."
"Now we are in discussions with some carriers in the US to potentially launch a future product there," said the Chinese-Swedish entrepreneur.
Pei also acknowledged that it won't be easy for his company to compete with Apple on its own turf. "There's a challenge with Android where iOS is just becoming more and more dominant. They have very strong lock-in with iMessage, with AirDrop, especially among Gen Z. So that's a rising concern for me," he said.
"There might be a time where Apple is like 80% of the overall market and that just does not leave enough space for Android-based manufacturers to keep playing," Pei added.
Nothing has sold over 1 million products to date globally, with its Ear (1) earbuds selling 600,000 units and the Phone (1) reaching 500,000 shipments.
The company expects its revenues to jump more than tenfold in 2022 — from about $20 million in 2021 to an estimated $250 million this year, according to figures shared with CNBC. However, the firm is still losing money, which Pei says is partly due to the foreign currency exchange.
"We pay a lot of our COGS [cost of goods sold] in USD but we make money in pounds, in euros, in Indian rupees — so everything devalued against the USD," said Pei. "The goal is to be profitable in 2024."
Update 12/5: "Phone (2) isn't launching anytime soon," Pei said in a tweet, shortly after this article was published. "We're focused on doing a few things well, and won't churn out dozens of products a year like many others." Pei's comments suggest that if the "future product" planned for the US market is the Nothing Phone 2, it won't arrive for a while yet.