HTC's Exodus1 blockchain phone will reportedly be using the Brave browser, which is known for its high degree of privacy and ad blocking functions. Photo: HTC Corp

With Apple, Huawei and Samsung taking all the headlines in the mobile technology world, troubled Taiwanese telco HTC is staking its future on a blockchain phone.

HTC has experienced concurrent years of sales declines and in June reported a year-on-year revenue drop of almost 70%. The new phone, called the Exodus, is set for a Q3 2018 pre-launch and includes a number of features that HTC hopes will make it once again a leader in the field.

These include interoperability between blockchains, features for DApps (decentralized applications) and a universal crypto-currency wallet. Some industry analysts say future versions will come with crypto mining applications. At present, only “The Finney” by Sirin Labs advertises itself as a blockchain phone.

“Our vision is to expand the blockchain ecosystem by creating the world’s first phone dedicated to decentralized applications and security. With the release of the HTC Exodus we can now make this a reality,” says the company.

Charlie Lee, the creator of the crypto-currency Litecoin, has announced he is serving as advisor to the project. “Met the HTC Exodus team last week and was really excited to hear the phone will support LTC and Lightning Network on Litecoin natively! I will be an advisor as I see having a secure crypto phone that makes LN simple is needed for mass adoption,” Lee tweeted on July 29.

HTC is leading the launch with a “take back the internet’ slogan and a tagline that says “the revolution will be tokenised.” It all sounds cute enough, but what does it mean in reality? The company laid off another 1,500 workers in July, which by many estimates is a quarter of its global workforce, and this follows a 2017 deal between HTC and Google that saw the US tech giant acquire part of HTC’s high-end design division.

Aside from the Exodus, HTC Corp seems to be banking on blockchain achieving imminent mass adoption, especially in mainstream gaming. The digital CryptoKitties digital cat-breeding app will come pre-loaded on all mobile devices and the Taiwan mobile manufacturer says this is the first in a series of blockchain-based games that will come with its devices.

“Our partnership with @CryptoKitties is just the beginning of a non fungible, collectible marketplace and crypto gaming app store,” said HTC on Twitter. “We want to invite all developers to distribute [their] blockchain games and collectibles … on @htcexodus. We believe there is a paradigm shift and the pendulum is swinging back to ownership and the value of content.”

HTC says “early access” to the Exodus will be possible in Q3, 2018.