In June 2022, Solana Mobile announced plans for its flagship smart phone-cum-crypto wallet, Saga. Designed to create a better mobile experience for Web3 users, Saga packages secure private key management into an Android device with all the functionality of an average cell phone.
Less than 18 months after its launch, Solana founder Anatoly Yakovenko has revealed that after disappointing sales, internal discussions are underway regarding Saga’s future.
Although he didn’t digress exactly how many units Solana shipped, in a recent interview, Yakovenko acknowledged that Saga’s sales figures had been underwhelming.
“The Solana superfans – they loved it,” he insisted. But when it came to building the user base of 25,000–50,00 Saga owners Yakovenko said would make it worth building applications for the phone, he professed that sales fell short.
But why did Saga flop? The Solana founder noted that better mobile interfaces have improved the user experience of regular smartphones, which once made navigating Web3 much more challenging.
He speculated that passkeys and progressive web apps that can bypass app store restrictions had “shrunk the difference” between developing Web3 apps for an iPhone or other popular mobile versus apps that only work on a dedicated device.
Yakovenko also conceded that although he owns one, he doesn’t use his Saga for everyday business. “My work phone is my iPhone,” he admitted, noting that he uses a Saga as his “NFT phone.”
Over the years, Samsung, HTC and a string of smaller, niche manufacturers have all had a crack at marketing crypto phones. Yet few were ever commercially viable and none managed to gain any real traction. Moreover, a new generation of Web3 phones has increasingly focused on software, raising doubts over whether Solana’s decision to build custom hardware for Saga was really necessary.
From crypto trading to Web3 gaming, today, most mobile users appear to be sufficiently satisfied with their smartphone’s security and functionality not to warrant having a separate device.
Going forward, Yakovenko said Solana’s next hardware venture might be a less ambitious “smart wallet,” which combines crypto custody with a few lightweight extra features.
In the same way, he mostly uses his own Saga for NFT management, the Solana founder said there could be a market for “a much cheaper version an iPhone user could use as a secondary device.”